The Manning and its tributaries have received some much-needed rain and although the falls have been scattered, there has been sufficient to put a metre rise in the freshwater part of the river. This will hunt the bream back downstream and move the prawns closer to the lower parts of the estuary. Also in March, there aren’t as many holidaymakers in the area and this allows keen local anglers to make a planned attack on the fish. When the school holidays finish, there is also an influx of people who like to fish under less crowded conditions.
Flathead are on the bite in most of the lower parts of the river. The majority caught are up to 55cm in length, with the occasional big female being taken. I am pleased to report that most of the anglers who land big breeding fish are releasing them these days, in order to to increase stocks. Very few of the big fish have spawned at this time, but by the end of March most will be empty and heading back upstream.
There have been a few schools of baitfish moving into the river, but by the start of March there will be great clouds of them travelling inland up past Taree. These will attract all the larger species, with bream, flathead, tailor and school mulloway feeding on them. There will be luderick to catch on weed and live yabbies, and whiting to spin on surface poppers, or worms and yabbies.
Fortunately for us tailor anglers, the big choppers have shown up recently. These are fish from 2-2.5kgs and are in great condition. Not many are being caught during daylight hours though, with the best catches being made at night over the high tide period. The salmon have not shifted from the beaches at all, and fish to 3.5kg have been taken on pilchards, worms and squid baits. The mulloway turned up about a week after the full moon, and fish to 16kg were weighed in. Some nice whiting have been taken from the spit in the mouth of the river, and bream have been caught from the southern end of Crowdy Beach.
The temperature has been 24-25 degrees, which makes for good fishing at this time of the year. Lots of small black marlin around 40kg have been released by anglers trolling lures or fishing live baits. The northern grounds have produced snapper to 7kg and trag to 4kg. Pearl perch to 3.5kg have also been taken. Mahimahi are feeding on live baits and lures jigged near the FAD and the Waverider buoy. A few bonito have shown up, but they are not numerous at the present time.
March is a great time to fish the Manning area, as the sun has lost a bit of bite and the afternoon nor’ easters cool things down a bit. In the estuary there are flathead, whiting, bream, small tailor and mulloway to hunt, while luderick are being taken from the river wall on weed. Around the rocks, tailor can be spun on lures or garfish on ganged hooks, and the odd big blue groper will take a red crab on a 6/0 542 hook. Outside anglers can fish the close reefs for snapper on live bait or soft plastics, and maybe come up with the occasional mulloway to 20kg.Reads: 594