The Manning River has received a couple of decent falls of rain that have put a bit of a fresh in the river.
The freshes have moved the fish down the river and flathead, bream, luderick and school jew have been on the bite. There are plenty of small mullet and herring in the lower reaches of the river and these bait fish make excellent live baits for flathead and school jew.
February is the time when the keen rock fisherman can score a big blue groper of 10kg or better, or spin up a tailor of 7kg or more. The tailor this year have reverted to their habits of years ago, when there were no tailor around until Christmas, when the choppers turned up in their thousands. Then, early in February, the big fish used to make their presence felt at Diamond Head and Mermaid Reef.
Most anglers have concentrating on the sea wall out near the cement blocks, where they have been catching school jew to 8kg and some nice bream to a kilo on beach worms. Farther up-river, flathead have been taken on fresh yabbies and plastic lures while luderick have been dining on live yabbies on the rising tide at night.
The weed beds upstream from the mouth of Cattai Creek, and also those on the down-river side, have fished extra well for flathead on lures and whitebait fished on a three-hook rig of No 6 Mustad 4200s.
With only a few legal tailor to catch, most anglers have been concentrating on the bream on Crowdy Beach. The southern end of the beach has millions of small pipis and the bream have feeding on these tasty morsels on the rising tide. Pipis or beach worms will take these fish and, while they are not monsters, they are in excellent condition and make very good eating.
The southern end of the beach has been forming up well and there are a couple of nice gutters that should hold jew on the high tides.
The offshore waters have warmed up nicely but there have not been a great number of surface fish around for the past few months. Thankfully, the big snapper have turned up in close and quite a few anglers have picked up 5kg-plus snapper on floaters. Live baits should work well for jew and big snapper.
The river should be alive with baitfish in February and this should make easy for anglers to bag a big flathead or a nice school jew. Flathead will be taking plastic lures as well as the deep-diving types. The edges of the sandbanks and the edges of the weed beds will be the spots to work the lures.
Crowdy Head and Diamond Head will fish well for groper on red crabs and hermit crabs on the low tide. A fresh slab or a live bait on a bobby-cork rig would be the way to go for a big jew or tailor.
Melinda Smith with another Harrington crocodile, of 5.5kg gilled and gutted.
Daniel Musgrave with proof that not all ‘knobby’ snapper are large. This one went only 3.65kg yet had the head bumps of a much larger fish.Reads: 821