The past month has definitely been an interesting and rewarding one for all anglers. While the coastal strip has received a bit of rain, the country up river has been in need of a good drenching for the last six weeks. Consequently, the freshwater part of the Manning is clear but water levels are low.
The bass have moved up the river and tributaries as far as they can and the mullet are spread throughout the system. The small amount of rain we’ve had on the coast hasn’t influenced the fishing, but has cooled everything down and is a much welcome change. We have experienced quite a lot of south to easterly winds which have had a devastating effect on the beaches. At one stage the beach from Crowdy Head to Diamond Head was washed completely flat and there was no good water to fish. Thankfully, a few days of northeasterly winds has allowed the beaches to build up a little.
At this time of the year, the big female flathead come down to the mouth of the estuary to spawn. They will be here until the end of March but some head off up river a month before this time. The spawning flathead gather in groups in the lower parts of the estuary and once you know their habits it is very easy to find them. They are susceptible to a live bait presented on a bobby cork rig, the depth of the bait does not matter much. I have seen a 7.5kg fish chase a live bait around a bobby cork until the bait was wound up against the cork. These fish are easy to catch but also easy to spook. Once a few fish have been hooked they will move to a new location. Sometimes only 50m or so away, or they could cross over to the other side of the river. However, all is not lost, as other fish will move into a vacant spot within a few days. At the present time the lower part of the river is full of smaller flathead ranging in size from just legal to 50cm in length. Soft plastics are the way to tackle these fish and they will take just about any colour or type of lure. The sand spit in the mouth of the river is fishing well for whiting, chopper tailor, bream and school mulloways to 6kg.
Beach fishing has been restricted by the southerly weather, but chopper tailor have been caught from Crowdy Beach on lures and pilchards while salmon and small school mulloway have been taking beach worm baits. The southern end of Crowdy Beach has produced catches of bream while the Diamond Head end has fished best for school mulloway and whiting. Anglers fishing the rocks at Crowdy have scored small blue groper and a few pigs on crabs and cunjevoi baits.
Outside anglers have mainly been fishing the northern grounds in the Mermaid Reef area for medium and small snapper and pearl perch to 2.5kg. Flathead have been plentiful on the drift and bonito have been taking trolled lures but they seem to disappear at times. The offshore fishing will improve in December when the northeasterly winds blow consistently. They start up about midday and drop off just before sunset. This makes morning and night fishing fairly enjoyable.
December is a great time to fish the Harrington area. There are tailor, salmon, whiting and mulloway to chase on the beaches while the estuary will have flathead, luderick, whiting, bream and the occasional mulloway for your fishing pleasure. The boat angler has miles of river to fish for flathead, bream and mulloway as well as the opportunity to bag a few blue swimmers or a mangrove crab in a net.
This month there’s the chance of a mulloway from the river, estuary and beaches. Photo courtesy of Bohnock Bait & Tackle.Reads: 295