Big flathead gather
  |  First Published: December 2005

Usually just before Christmas, the big female flathead start to gather in the lower part of the Manning.

They come down the river to spawn and congregate in schools of a few fish to two or three dozen. In days past I have counted more than 100 big flathead along a couple of hundred metres of a sandy beach.

Of course, they do not turn up in those numbers today but flathead are becoming much more numerous since netting was stopped in the lower part of the Manning.

The large females are not being taken and as a result there are many more smaller flathead in the system. The anglers who fish soft plastics exclusively have remarked how plentiful the smaller flathead are now compared with a couple of years ago.


The backwater at Harrington is fishing really well for small legal-sized (36cm) fish on lures, bait and soft plastics. Catches of eight to 10 fish are not exceptional.

The edges of the weed beds from Chinamens Point upstream have also produced plenty of fish. The Manning Point side of the river is also good for drifting for flathead from the swimming pool down to the spur wall.

Luderick are still on the bite with best catches at night on live yabbies. Two hours before to two hours after high tide seems to get the best results.

A couple of small school jew to 5kg have been caught from the sea wall over the full moon but they are not as numerous as in past months.


Strong southerly winds have stirred up some huge seas and beach and rock fishing has not been on the menu for most anglers. Before the winds salmon, school jew and the occasional patch of good sized tailor were on the beaches.

It will take a couple of weeks of north-easterlies to form the beaches again. Crowdy Beach is only drivable on low tide as the sea has cut holes in the beach right back to the dune vegetation.

Schools of baitfish have gathered wide of the beaches and gulls and gannets have been working them every day. When the sea slackens these should come into the gutters and with them will come the predatory fish to feed on them.


Before the big seas outside fishing was good with plenty of nice snapper to 2.5kg, a few school jew and the occasional kingfish to 7kg.

December should see plenty of surface fish to spin or troll as well as big snapper around the close reefs on the full moon.

The Christmas chopper tailor should school up and school jew should be plentiful on the northern end of Crowdy Beach.

In the estuary, flathead will be the top pick with luderick, bream, school jew and whiting also plentiful.

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