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Big choppers move in
  |  First Published: February 2008



This is when the big tailor appear around the rocks at Crowdy Head and Diamond Head. Usually by the third week of the month they start to show up and they remain in the area for five months.

It is unusual to catch a big tailor before the middle of February or after the end of July but every year the big tailor, and I mean big, travel up the coast in about 30 to 50 fathoms offshore.

Off Old Bar they are caught in 30 by anglers fishing live bait for jew and snapper. Off Crowdy Head they are taken in 40 fathoms by anglers fishing live bait for jew.

The same thing happens in 35 fathoms off Laurieton to the north.

With tailor between 5kg and 12kg, these fish are worth encountering. The largest I have seen weighed 12.5kg.

Some of these fish tend to congregate at Mermaid Reef and they can be caught there on lures and garfish at times.

Some populate Crowdy Head and some move onto Diamond Head. The best fish caught in these areas are around 9kg but I have seen fish of 15kg.

Before I hear someone say ‘they don’t grow that big’, I have an old Agricultural Gazette that contains an article written by a scientist who travelled on all the tuna boats that fished the Australian coast many years ago. He wrote that while poling a school of tuna 40 miles off Crowdy Head, a ‘bluefish’ (tailor) of 45lb (20.4kg) was landed. Not a bad little chopper!

ESTUARY

There have been several good falls of rain in the headwaters of the Manning during which consequently has experienced several freshes. The fishing has been excellent.

The bream were forced back down the river by the dirty water and great catches were made on bait and lures.

The flathead were quiet while the river was in fresh but they will be back on the bite when the water clears.

A few small jew to 6kg have been taken on soft plastics from the sea wall on the high tides.

BEACH, ROCK

The southerly seas have flattened the beaches and the stirred-up sand has pushed the baitfish out to sea. Consequently the tailor have followed the baitfish and they will not be back on the beaches until the sea settles.

Before the southerlies, there were some good catches of bream made from Crowdy Beach on worms and pipis.

The rocks at Crowdy have been fishing well for drummer to 2kg with the main bait being cunjevoi since abalone gut has been banned.

OFFSHORE

Again the weather has determined when boats can go to sea and the number of good days have been limited. When boats do get out, snapper are the most prevalent in iceboxes.

Bonito have been increasing in numbers and those boats willing to spend a couple of hours trolling have been able to catch a heap.

February will be a marvellous time for the estuary angler. The crowds of holidaymakers will have departed and with the calm and quiet, live-baiting for big flathead will be the way to go.

Jew should be back in the mouth of the river and salmon will be following the baitfish up the river.

On the beaches chopper tailor will take pilchards and metal lures at dawn and dusk while a fresh slab of tailor fished at these times could easily entice a big jew to take a bait unless one of those mega-tailor beat them to it – big tailor are cannibals.

Outside anglers will have plenty of surface fish to chase with bonito, mackerel tuna and Spaniards in the area.

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