This is the time of the year when the serious mulloway fishing is done. The mullet have started to leave the river and head north on their annual migration, and other schools of mullet from farther south are making their way past the mouth of the Manning.
When the river ran out to sea along the north wall of the estuary, most schools of mullet travelling north would come up against the wall and follow it upriver to the end of the rocks and then turn and make their way back out to sea and continue on to the north. Now, with the river flowing out to sea on the Manning Point side and a big sand spit resting up against the wall, it is highly likely that the schools of mullet coming north from rivers farther south will miss the entrance to the Manning and continue up the coast. This means that anglers will miss quite a lot of the action that occurs when the schools move into and out of the river. There will be plenty of action while the various schools of fish are leaving the river but after the last of the mullet have gone it will be necessary to fish the headlands when the mullet are passing by. Usually, the mullet stay on the southern side of a headland if they arrive near dark or if the sharks and jew are attacking them when they try to go around the headland. Sometimes this can delay them for a day or so but eventually the urge to migrate overcomes all fears of predators, and the mullet will head around the headland despite losing many fish to hungry mouths.
At the time of writing the Manning is packed with mullet. The fish are schooling up at Taree, and further up the river where the saltwater ends at Abbots Falls there are great schools of fish. It appears that this year could be the best run of mullet for years.
Bream are moving down towards the entrance of the river and they will run after the bulk of the mullet have left. At the present time fish to 1kg are being caught on mullet strips from the wall. The best catches are being made at night either side of high tide.
Luderick are biting well upstream from the entrance around Chinamans Point on green weed and live yabbies. Flathead catches are down but there are masses of undersized fish in the system. It certainly looks good for next year.
There are quite a few reports coming in about sharks in the river. Sharks are not stupid. They know that there are big schools of mullet to come down the river and they are waiting to get their share.
The southeasterly seas have flattened out the beaches but there are still heaps of tailor chasing the whitebait in the gutters and out behind the break. Most of the fish caught during the day are only up to 1kg in weight but at night time fish to a bit better than 2.5kg can be caught. It is best to fish a good gutter around the high tide, and the later the tide the better. The occasional salmon and bream are being taken at night.
Teraglin and snapper have been caught from the northern grounds near reefs and underwater rocky areas while mahi mahi (dolphinfish) are plentiful around the FAD. Bonito can be taken by trolling lures over the rocky parts of the sea bed and along the tide lines. Mulloway have been scarce but they should show up as the moon rises to full.
May is a great time to fish the Manning, with something for all types of anglers, whether it be fishing for luderick, bream and mulloway in the river or chasing tailor and mulloway from the beaches and rocks. Outside anglers can hunt big snapper around the inshore reefs and live bait for mulloway on the gravelly bottoms. Best of all, the weather conditions are usually fairly favourable at this time of the year.
John Brewer with a nice Crowdy Blue Groper.
Alven Cook with a 3kg Harrington Beach TailorReads: 796