Rain turns on the fish
  |  First Published: December 2003

JANUARY certainly looks like being an excellent time for the holidaymakers and the serious anglers as well.

Enough rain has fallen in the upper reaches of the Manning River to produce a small fresh, which will clean out the green slime that was infesting the river and move the fish down towards the mouth of the estuary.

There seem to be more fish in the bottom part of the river now that netting has been banned in the area from Ghinni Ghinni Creek down to the mouth.

Flathead and bream are on the bite and are providing plenty of action for bait anglers as well as those tossing plastics around the weed beds. I saw a flathead of about 3kg caught at Chinamans Point which took a plastic lure retrieved over the rocky bottom near the rocks on the downstream end of the beach. The fight was very good, especially when the angler grabbed the line and dragged the fish about 15 metres through the shallow water to the dry sand.

This month flathead will be caught from the river wall, Manning Point wall, along the weed beds and near any piles of ballast rocks in the lower part of the river. Live bait on a bobby cork rig is a sure way of hooking a large lizard Play them with a very light drag setting so that they won’t come to the surface and start shaking their head, which will run your line across those sharp front teeth and risk a bite-off. There will be plenty of small tailor, mullet and gar in the river to use as live bait. And remember that these big fish are all breeding females vital to the future of the flathead population in the area, so please release them.


Chopper tailor, salmon, school jew, whiting and bream will all be available to the beach enthusiast and the rockhopper alike. Beach worms are readily available on Harrington and Crowdy beaches and can be used for all species but tailor. An occasional tailor is caught on worms but lures, pilchards, bonito strips, mullet pieces or strips of fresh tailor will catch more of these fish.

When the tailor are ‘on’ I bleed the fish in a bucket and when I have four or five, I slab the next fish and cut each slab into three or four strips and drop them into the blood in the bottom of the bucket. The strips fit onto a three- or four-hook rig and will catch as many tailor as any other bait. You also stand the chance of attracting a passing jewfish or the bream that often lurk under feeding tailor. And it is free!


The calm nights of Summer when there is plenty of moon are just magic times to be anchored up near a close-in bommie and fishing live baits or floating slabs in close to the rocks.

Big snapper and jewfish just seem to love feeding around these places. As well there are plenty of surface fish for those who like to troll a lure along a tide line or cast to a school of chopping fish. There are also plenty of bottom fish to chase – flathead, morwong, teraglin and trevally.

The days of January are usually very hot so the early mornings and afternoons are the best times to go fishing. Of course, the nights are not to be missed. A high tide about 8pm or 9pm is ideal time to fish the beach for big jew and tailor.

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