THE QUICKLY approaching Christmas holidays look like being an excellent time for locals and visitors alike to catch a heap of fish.
Since the closure to commercial netting of the lower part of the Manning River and the gazettal of a recreational fishing zone there, the bream and flathead in the lower part of the river have shown a remarkable increase in numbers. The bream anglers who use soft plastics have reported catching bream in places where they never caught a fish before the closure. The same applies to the flathead. They are more numerous than in previous years and, in my opinion, must only get better as the big females are allowed to breed each year.
The bream have started to move back up-river and although there are still some good catches from the walls, the bream are not as plentiful as they were. The up-river oyster leases are producing excellent catches of fish on lures and bait anglers who are able to float a yabby in near the timber are getting plenty of hook-ups.
Some monster flathead have been hooked and lost and while this is disappointing to the anglers involved, it’s a plus for future stocks as these big fish have heaps more eggs than the smaller breeders. The river has heaps of tiny tailor working the schools of baitfish moving up the river and these tailor have brought the school jew into the estuary for a feed. The schoolies are only 1.5kg to 3.5kg but they put up a good fight on light line.
Whiting are becoming more numerous on the flats at the mouth of the river. Beach worms, white worms and live yabbies are the best baits to use for these excellent eating fish.
Salmon and tailor are the main species to be caught from the beaches at present. The salmon are taking worms, squid, fish pieces and lures while pilchards and lures will attract the tailor.
Bream are not as plentiful as they were but the occasional fish has been taken on worms from the southern end of Crowdy Beach. Drummer to 1.5kg have been caught from the rocks at Crowdy Head while a 5kg blue groper was landed on red crab bait from the south side.
The headlands in our area are sanded up on their southern sides and it is possible to walk out, on low tide, to places where people have caught jew in five metres of water in the past.
Conditions have restricted the outside anglers to only a few days in the past few weeks but a variety of fish have been brought in. Flathead are not as plentiful but a feed can still be caught if you spend the time on the drift.
Surface fish are out a bit wider and bonito and striped tuna can be taken on trolled lures. Big snapper have been caught on live slimies and slabs of slimy and bonito fished on floaters down a berley trail. Come holiday time and the close in reefs will be worth a try near the full moon for big snapper. It is possible to pick up a 9kg or 10kg fish at this time, especially at night.
December is a great time for all family members to enjoy a fish and be rewarded with a decent catch. Flathead are the easiest fish to target as at this time they will eat almost anything that is thrown at them, be it bait or lures.
Boat anglers have the most success but there are plenty of fish taken from the walls. Luderick will be on the bite in numbers by this time and may be caught on weed during the day or live yabbies at night.
For those who head out wide, such as South Coast angler Peter Muller, there are bar cod and hapuku to drag up from the depths.Reads: 549