Baitfish the catalyst
  |  First Published: April 2010

Fishing has definitely picked up over the past month with schools of whitebait moving along the beaches and the mullet moving down the river from the freshwater to the salt.

Once the mullet come into the salty part of the river they form increasingly larger schools and by the time this hits the news stands the mullet will have left the river and headed north on their yearly breeding migration.

Everything this year is pointing to a good run of mullet from the Manning.

It seems everything is on the bite in the estuary at present. Bream, flathead, whiting, luderick and school jew have all been caught in the lower parts of the estuary.

The best jew have been around 12kg but there have been lots of smaller fish caught.

There are also a few sharks in the estuary. No doubt they are getting ready to tear into the schooling mullet.

A few jewfish anglers have hooked fish, only to have them give up the ghost suddenly when a hungry shark has bitten off the back half.

These are not small sharks. Judging by the curve of the bite marks I’ve been seeing, I would say they are at least 2.8m long.


Beach fishing has been great with bream, salmon, tailor and jew being caught.

The tailor are mainly confined to the gutters south and north of Abbeys Creek. This is where the main concentration of whitebait has been and the tailor have been ripping into them.

Clouds of gulls and terns feeding on the whitebait forced up to the surface by the tailor below indicate where to toss a lure.

Most of the daytime tailor are fairly small, 30cm to 40cm, but if you want to catch fish around 1.5kg you must fish after dark with fresh slabs of tailor or bonito.

The offshore fishing has been pretty good with bonito and mackerel tuna there for those willing to troll a lure.

Mahi mahi have been caught around the wave rider buoy and small kings have been plentiful on bait and lures.

Trag have been on the bite from the northern grounds while snapper to 5kg are plentiful in water up to 40m.

Flathead have gone off the bite and no one is bringing in a bag limit of eastern blue spots.

May is a splendid time to fish the Manning and the beaches north and south of the mouth of the river.

There are still schools of mullet moving north along with the accompanying jew, sharks, bream and snapper.

When the mullet are around a headland and are being held back by sharks and jew then the big snapper join in the feeding frenzy. A 9kg snapper caught from the rocks at Crowdy Head a few years ago had a 2kg mullet down its throat with the tail sticking out.

One wonders why the snapper took the baited hook when it was already full of fish.

In the river, bream are schooling along the walls and will bite well on mullet strips or mullet gut.

Night is the best time for bream, especially a couple of hours either side of slack water.

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