At this time of the year, our freshwater anglers’ thoughts are concentrated on the upper part of the Manning, as the MNC Freshwater Championship is nearly upon us. The Manning is flowing very slowly with water levels a bit below normal. The water is clear and there are heaps of mullet schooling in the larger holes.
Rainfall has been very limited over the past couple of months and some farmers are crying “drought.” A farmer from way upriver experienced a very localized storm delivering 25mm of rain in a very short time. There was no run-off. The water just soaked into the ground. It must be dry upriver.
January is the time to target the big flathead that come down the river to spawn in the mouth of the Manning. A bobby cork rig with a live bait attached is the best way to tackle these big mothers. Fish of 4-5kg are common, while larger specimens around 8kg can be landed. It’s not necessary to use heavy line to land these big fish – 6kg line with a trace of 9kg will do the trick.
The main aim when playing these fish is to take it easy and not put too much pressure on the fish. If too much pressure is applied, the fish will come to the surface and shake its head violently. Sharp teeth will do the rest. Once the fish is in near the shore, pull it up to the edge of the water and remove the hook. The fish can then be returned to the water to make many more flathead.
Great satisfaction can be achieved by the angler who carefully lands and releases a big flathead. A photo to celebrate the event is all you need to skite about. I prefer flathead in the 40-50cm size for eating. There are a few anglers in the Manning who don’t keep any flathead over 50cm.
Quite a few school mulloway have been caught upriver around Croki and in the Lansdowne River on soft plastics. Most of the fish are only up to 5kg in weight, but occasional 15kg fish have been caught. The lack of rain has ensured that the river is very salty right up to the falls at Wingham. Lots of baitfish schools have been moving into the river. Bream are still being caught from the wall on mullet strips while luderick have shut down for the moment.
Thanks to some strong northeasterly winds, the beaches are forming up nicely and fishing will be good. Right now, tailor and salmon are being caught from Harrington Beach on bait and lures. Before the full moon, mulloway were on the bite from Crowdy Beach near Abbeys Creek. Most fish were up to 15kg, but a couple of 22kg fish were also landed.
Fishing has quietened down in the last week or so and most catches have been made from the northern grounds. Snapper are plentiful and fish in the 1-3kg range make up the most of the catch. The big fish of a month ago have departed for the present time, but they will be back when the moon rises to full. Flathead can be caught on the drift from the close-in sand bottoms.
January is the time to target big fish. Flathead and mulloway are around in the estuary and tailor, mulloway and blue groper can be caught from the rocks and beach. With all the chopper tailor around, mulloway will be targeting them for a feed. A live tailor or a fresh slab makes excellent bait for all sizes of mulloway.
A nice catch of school size mulloway around 85cm/7kg. Photo courtesy of Bohnock Bait & Tackle.Reads: 489