The holidays are shaping up as a top time for estuary anglers and those who work the beaches.
The rains of early November put a nice little fresh in the Manning and really brought the flathead on the bite. Since the rain and the southerly winds finished, the north-easterlies have been blowing daily and re-forming the beaches that were flattened by the seas.
Crowdy Beach has some good formations building up and by the start of the holidays should be in excellent shape for bream, whiting, tailor and jew.
There are a couple of very soft areas on the beach. One spot is a couple of kilometres south of Abbeys Creek and another is about a kilometre north of Second Creek.
It is really going to be a wonderful season for flathead. Already the big females are appearing in the corner of the wall near the fish-cleaning table, where fish to nearly 6kg have been caught. Not many have been released, which is a worry because the big females can carry 2 million eggs each.
The flathead are on the bite on baits and lures up to Cundletown on the Manning and in the waterways between the islands in the lower part of the river.
Some good bream have been taken upstream and good-sized whiting have been caught around the down-river end of Dumaresq Island.
At Harrington the jew have started to appear again along the sea wall. Lots of small fish around 1.5kg to 2.5kg have been taken on soft plastics.
A few larger fish to 10kg have been caught from the end of the wall and one of 25kg was taken on bait from the beach near the end of the sea wall.
The beaches are still building after the southerlies and not a lot of fish are being taken. The schools of whitebait have not moved back into the gutters and the tailor are staying out to sea with the schools.
Sometimes you can pick up a few nice fish of about a kilo if you fish the whitewater in the gutters on dark and for the next hour or so.
There are plenty of bream moving along the beaches and the trick is to be where they are feeding. You have to be prepared to move from spot to spot until you get onto fish.
The rocks have been producing a few small groper and only the occasional drummer.
Quite a few boats are going out now that the seas have calmed. The north-easterlies start to really get a move on by 11am so it is necessary to be ready to head out to sea by first light and pack up and come home before midday.
There have been quite a lot of snapper around 2kg to 3kg caught on plastics jigged over the rock bottoms. The fish caught on bait tend to be the plate-sized variety.
There have not been many surface fish around but if the warm weather continues and the bait schools keep turning up we will soon have plenty of bonito and mackerel to catch on the troll.
January is traditionally the best month for big flathead. Fish of up to 7kg can be caught on live baits on a bobby cork rig by drifting along the wall and along the drop-offs at the edge of the weed beds.
Luderick are also plentiful on weed during the day and on live yabbies at night. The rocks are worth a try for big blue groper on red crabs and jewfish at night on fresh squid or tailor slabs.
There will be plenty of chopper tailor to be caught on bait or lures from the beaches and a fresh tailor slab fished at dawn or dusk could be the bait for a decent jew.Reads: 1197