The Manning River is starting to show signs of improvement since the netting restrictions were put into force last year.
Those anglers who chase bream on lures say that they are catching bream in places where previously they did not get a strike. This, to me, means that the bream habitat is becoming larger and consequently the river is growing more weed beds and more shrimp and prawns.
The river is also considerably deeper in the northern arm all the way to Taree, compared with the readings I obtained early last year when I put the sounder over it from the mouth to the bridge at Taree.
Schools of baitfish have been moving into the river and luderick can be seen along the sea wall as they make their way upstream. This all bodes well for fishing in March, when the bream and mullet will start to school up ready for their journey north.
The estuary is the most productive part of the fishing domain in the Harrington area. Luderick, whiting, bream, flathead and chopper tailor are being caught by those prepared to put in time and effort to get the right bait and spend the hours necessary to catch a bag of fish. Live yabbies are the bait for bream, luderick and the smaller flathead, while live baits will take the big flathead. Beach worms or white worms will catch the whiting.
Bream have been the main species caught on the beaches for the past couple of months – not big fish but quite legal specimens from 400g to 750g. The chopper tailor are starting to show up and when the easterly swells abate, there should be plenty to catch as the beach formations improve and the schools of baitfish come into the gutters that will form up.
Some good whiting have been caught on Crowdy Beach on beach worms and the school jew are starting to show up around Abbeys Creek.
Outside anglers have had some extremely bad weather to contend with and catches have been limited. However, when the seas have been right, some big snapper have been caught on floaters. The water was particularly warm a while ago and some small marlin were hooked on lures – no big fish, but plenty of fun on light gear.
March should see the big tailor appear at Diamond Head and around Mermaid Reef, where they will fall to lures or a big garfish spun or trolled. These fish range from 2kg up to 10kg or better and any fish in the old double figures is a great catch.
The beaches will have plenty of choppers to catch and the salmon should be here before long. In the estuary, big flathead will still be around and bream and luderick will be plentiful.
Hopefully some surface fish will have turned up to make the outside anglers’ trips to the reef or the wide grounds a bit more interesting. If no floods come down the river, March should be a very interesting time to fish the Manning.
Joe Margion caught this 50kg black marlin off Harrington in early January.
Wayne Hammond has his hands full with these prime jewies of 9.9kg and 13.4kg.Reads: 1153