What a month it has been, with rain, wind, storms, freshes and small floods!
Yet all this difficult weather has been mixed with some of the most beautiful fishing conditions imaginable.
When things have been right the sea has been calm, the north-easterlies gentle and the sky overcast. The lack of bright sunlight on the water allows the fish to come into the shallows over the sand flats and in the beach gutters well before their usual allotted time of when the light begins to fade just before sunset.
These conditions have allowed anglers to target school jew and bream on the beaches and the sand flats in the river.
The freshes of the past few weeks have been a boon to estuary, beach and rock anglers.
Bream have been forced down the river and out along the beaches.
Flathead can still be caught upstream around Cundle bridge on soft plastics and along the walls at Harrington on live herring under a bobby cork rig. The best fish to date has been a 5kg specimen caught and kept by one of our local anglers.
The big bream are taking a liking to the herring and quite a few fish around a kilo have been taken.
The best jew so far has been 18kg but plenty from 5kg to 16kg have been caught.
The beaches have been firing with bream, jew and salmon on the bite.
Chopper tailor have appeared on the beaches but they are only small, with some fish not yet the legal 30cm.
Salmon are taking pilchard and squid baits and can be found in any of the gutters on Harrington and Crowdy beaches.
The school jew vary from 2.5kg to 6kg and are taking beach worms and small squid heads fished on 3/0 or 4/0 hooks. I prefer the Mustad 9555B Baitholder hook with its slices in the shank and turned-down eye.
The jew have been biting best by 4pm on the overcast days but on the bright days they won’t come onto the flats until 6pm or later.
Conditions have not been the best for outside fishers with only a few opportunities when the sea and winds have been down. Some boats have scored small snapper, flathead and pearlies.
There are plenty of bonito to catch on the troll and they make great bait for snapper.
January is one of the better months for angling in the Manning area.
The big flathead are gathered along the lower parts of the river wall and the first half of the seawall.
Live herring fished under a bobby cork rig is the way to go. Heavy line is not necessary to land big flathead because they will not cut you off if you do not put excess pressure on them.
They can be gently led to the wall and netted, the hook removed and the fish released to breed again. Gentle handling does not knock the fish about as much as dragging it in on 50lb line does.
There are also blackfish and school jew to catch in the estuary.
On the beaches tailor and jew are the best bets while outside anglers can hook into snapper and jew around the close reefs.Reads: 1423