The Manning River has been plagued by a series of small freshes over the past couple of months.
Only two of the freshes were the result of widespread rain over the whole Manning catchment; the rest were from localised downpours.
The runoff from these storms picked up plenty of mud and dirtied the upper parts of the Manning around Taree and further upstream but because there was not a great deal of runoff, the dirty water just went up and down with the tides and is taking a long time to clear.
Fortunately, the lower parts of the river are relatively clear and are fishing well.
The frequent freshes have meant the river has not fished consistently, with the flathead on the bite one day and gone as soon as the fresh hits.
However, the seaward end of the river has been the best for many years. Flathead from 3kg to 7kg have been caught nearly every day. Unfortunately not many anglers are putting these big fish back into the system to breed and produce more flathead to catch.
Some greedy anglers also are taking more than the legal bag limit of big fish and some are coming back in the afternoon to catch more big fish, after having fished in the morning and caught their bag limit.
Just in case some of these people are simply ignorant rather than criminal, the bag limit is 10 fish, with only one over 70cm. The bag limit is the maximum number of fish per person in possession and possession also means at your dwelling or in your car.
Apart from the flathead, whiting are on the bite on live yabbies and sea worms. The corner of the wall and the lagoon are producing bag limits of fish (20).
A few school jew have been caught from the sea wall but not as many as a couple of months ago. The mullet are schooling in the lower parts of the river and this year’s run should be good.
Fishing has picked up on our beaches and around the headlands.
Tailor averaging around 900g have been caught on bait and lures
Bream and small school jew up to 3kg have been taken on Harrington and Crowdy beaches.
I saw a school of about 20 boxes of hard gut mullet travelling north along Crowdy Beach recently. They were travelling fast and some unidentifiable fish were working underneath them and the mullet scattered every so often as these fish attacked.
Crowdy and Harrington beaches have regained a lot of the sand they lost during Spring and are safe to drive on at low tide. There are still some soft spots above the high tide mark.
The fishing has been good for flathead, snapper, pearl perch and surface species but the flathead are copping a pounding from the trawlers and their numbers will be down for a while.
There are plenty of bonito and mackerel tuna for the lure fishers and the slimy mackerel are in huge schools around the close bommies.
April is always an exciting time on the Manning, with the mullet schooling at the mouth of the river ready to start their migration north to spawn.
It is a great time to put out a live bait from the river walls for a big jew and the occasional large flathead.
Tailor are plentiful on the beaches and bream are collecting along the walls to move out onto the beaches to spawn. There is a bit of action for all anglers.
This young bloke is dwarfed by 3kg of pearl perch taken wide of Mermaid Reef.Reads: 2001