The next two months will provide some excellent fishing.
The bully mullet are schooling up, ready to leave the river in late April or early May and all the predators are in the river feeding on them. Jew and sharks are the largest predators but salmon, tailor, bream and flathead all feed on the scraps left by the ‘big two’.
In the open sea around the headlands, large snapper will also take travelling mullet. Bream are also starting to gather in the lower parts of the estuary, ready to leave on their northerly migration after the mullet.
Luderick also school up and travel north to other rivers at this time. We also have bream and luderick from the southern rivers and lakes calling in for a feed in the Manning. This all makes for an exciting couple of months fishing.
The Manning River lower reaches have had more than 300mm of rain with more to come, according to the forecasters. Most of the rain has sunk straight into the ground and there has been very little run-off but this could change with more falls up around Mount George and farther up the river, towards Gloucester. A fresh in the river would set things up nicely for the mullet run.
Bream, luderick and flathead have been caught on live yabbies from the river walls and around the wed beds and oyster leases. Some school jew showed up on the full moon and were caught on live herring fished under bobby corks.
Harrington Lagoon turned on the fireworks before the wet and windy weather came in from the south east. Jew of 13.5kg, 20kg, 11kg and 15kg were caught there on live herring and mullet pieces. Flathead of 2.9kg, 3.4kg and 4.8kg were taken from the same water. The lagoon is sanding up quickly now and is fairly shallow, so the big fish left in there may be having a difficult time getting enough to eat.
Before the rain the beaches and headlands of the Mid North Coast were teeming with tailor from legal size to 45cm feeding on whitebait in the shallows of the beaches. Some were caught on pilchards but the best bags were made on metal lures pelted out near the whitewater where the swells were breaking on the sand on the outside of the gutters. Since the south-easterly weather the tailor have gone off the bite but no doubt they will be back as soon as the winds start to come in from the north-east.
Not a lot of quality fish have been caught by the outside anglers, mainly due to the rough seas making it difficult to anchor up and fish a berley trail for a few hours. A couple of nice snapper have been boated and some good mahi mahi have been caught on lures. Even the boats chasing flathead have been down to half a dozen fish per angler.
April will be a time of plenty in the estuary with flathead still on the bite and all the predatory fish and their hangers-on hounding the schooling sea mullet. It will be time to get out the big gear and try for a big jew or a shark or two.
Daniel Bedell caught this snapper, which went close to 5kg, off Harrington in between the rough weather events.
This beautiful bream tipped the scales at 1.18kg gilled and gutted.Reads: 680