We need rain – lots of it. The freshwater part of the Manning is very low. Some of the old timers are saying that it’s as bad as they can recall. Very little rain has fallen in the hills and the river is barely moving. Further north from the Manning catchment, things are just as bad.
Up above Tamworth, the cotton crop is very poor due to the high temperatures causing the flowers to die, so the resulting crop is very small. The whole area north of the Manning catchment needs good sustaining rain. We, on the coast, have been experiencing varying sea temperatures from as low as 19°C to as high as 25°C. Some days the fish are on and some days they are not.
The estuaries have fished the best of all the locations. School mulloway to 6-7kg have been caught on live baits, soft plastics and slab baits from the wall at Harrington, from Chinaman’s Point, in the lower part of the Lansdowne River and up around Croki.
Flathead have continued to bite fairly well without causing a frenzy in the angling ranks. Bream to 800g are taking yabbies, mullet strips and prawn baits fished from the upriver part of the wall. Whiting have been caught on poppers and yabby baits from the sandspit and the backwater behind the hotel. Some anglers have been scoring a few luderick at night on fresh yabbies, but they don’t bite every night.
At last some decent tailor have shown up on Crowdy Beach. The best of the fish are over a kilo while most are around 600g. They are taking metal lures and pilchard baits. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to throw a bait for these little scrappers. The southern end of Crowdy Beach has produced catches of bream and whiting during the day on beach worms and pipis. The colder water seems to be close inshore all of the time and this keeps the bite down.
At last the baitfish have arrived. The sea from Mermaid Reef to Crowdy Head is packed with slimy mackerel, garfish and yellowtail. They have only just arrived and it should not take too long before the predatory fish arrive. Already small bonito have turned up in great numbers. Spanish mackerel, mahimahi and mac tuna should be here soon. The northern grounds have fished well for snapper to 2.5kg, pearl perch and trag. Down around Old Bar, flathead and morwong are biting well.
April is the month that the mullet run, usually around ANZAC Day. A westerly wind will send them out of the river as the tide turns from high. Schools of fish will continue to leave for two or three weeks. When the mullet are schooling up along the wall and in the lower reaches of the river, mulloway and sharks will be harassing them day and night.
A fresh slab of mullet floated out near the schools of fish is sure to draw a run from a mulloway or a shark. You need a strong rod, a reliable reel and strong line to handle these fish. Generally, the sharks will cut the line. If you happen to hook one in the side of the mouth a battle of up to an hour can take place. This is when you need a mate to handle the gaff and shine the torch on the rocks so you don’t slip. It is possible to get two or three hook-ups fairly quickly, so it can be a tiring session. It’s great fun though.Reads: 790