There is no doubt that fishing in the Manning River has improved as a result of the closure of the lower part of the river to commercial netting.
For the past few months there has been speculation that the bream fishing, in particular, has improved in the lower part of the river. Anglers who chase bream on soft plastics have been catching fish in areas of the river where they hardly got a take before the restrictions were brought in. Also they are getting more fish per outing than before the closure.
Perhaps the most telling factor is the number of reports from visiting anglers who go out in their boats or fish from the wall and catch a good bag of fish. The story is the same: “The fish are biting better this year. I’m catching more fish than ever I did before.”
I believe that the flathead are also starting to show an increase in numbers, especially the fish that are only 15cm or 20cm long. There are places on the sand and mud flats where hundreds of small flathead marks can be found at low tide.
Bream, whiting, flathead and luderick can be caught in most parts of the estuary. A few small school jew have been caught by bream anglers using yabbies, mullet pieces, tailor strips or beach worms. Most of the jew are only one or two kilos but a few fish to 5kg have been caught from the walls. Over the past few years September, not August, has proved to be the worst month for fishing. It seems that this year will be no different. The bream are still plentiful in the whole of the estuary and the luderick are still building up in numbers.
Bream and whiting are biting well on our beaches while tailor are very hard to pin down. They are here today and gone tomorrow. Having said that, there have been some good fish caught at night, with some over 1.5kg cleaned. There should be some whiting on the beaches during August, along with a few bream and some tailor to keep the anglers happy.
Drummer will be on the tooth by then as they should spawn late July or early August. Not many big drummer have been caught lately – only the occasional 3kg fish – but this should change down the track when the fish spawn and take any bait thrown to them.
Conditions have been either flat as a board or rough as guts for the outside boys. There have been some nice snapper caught on live baits as well as some kings to 10kg and jew to 15kg. August is renown for its west to south-west winds, which flatten out the sea and make fishing the close in reefs fairly easy, so there should be some nice reds caught on live bait or floaters.
The rocks will probably provide the best fishing during August with drummer and groper on the bite and some tailor to catch on lures and pilchards on bobby-cork rigs. For those who like it a bit easier, there will be plenty of luderick to catch at The Gantry on green weed or cabbage during daylight and on live yabbies at night.
A good time for reds: Trevor Walters with fish that weighed 5.443kg and 3.629kg.
Myra Carter caught this wonderful 1.64kg bream at Harrington.Reads: 443