Whiting Fishing Tips – How to Catch Whiting
“If God told me that I was only allowed to chase three fish species for the rest of my fishing days, Whiting would definitely be in that three.”
Whiting truly are for everyone. If ever there was a ‘people’s fish’ the Whiting would be it. It has launched the angling careers of many a 3 year old. It’s the classic summer holiday fish. It has dedicated lifers who target nothing else. Dyed in the wool Marlin hunters can’t help themselves but beam with joy with a 45cm elbow slapper in their hands. Great chefs have launched careers on their delicate flavour. For most of us, it’s a special, a weekend target or the prize table fair from the day’s mixed bag.
Let’s revisit this old chestnut in some detail. We’ll look at Whiting fishing rigs, Whiting locations, the best lures for targeting Whiting, great Whiting kit and some good old Whiting fishing tips. First, we should have a look at where they live. They certainly get about, but target zones, i.e. the places we catch them, are a little narrower than there distribution.
The Whiting most Australians are familiar with are the Sand Whiting and the famous King George Whiting. Their distribution around Australia is more far reaching than most anglers would probably realise. Sand Whiting can be found as far South as just below the Victoria NSW boarder. In the North, their distribution reaches the tip of Cape York. The likelihood of catching Sand Whiting at these extremes is far less likely however and the target zone starts between Cains and Townsville and stretches all the way down to the far South coast of NSW.
The King George Whiting is fond of the cooler waters. It’s found as far north as southern NSW, all the way around the bite up to just south of Geraldton on the Western Australian coast. It is also found at the top of Tasmania. The target zone would commence at the Victorian NSW boarder, Stretch to Port Phillip, the recommence in on the South Australian coast where King George Whiting can grow beyond 50cm. The bottom end of Western Australia, Albany to Mandurah is also a target Zone.
Whiting congregate in the summer for spawning, hence the term ‘Summer Whiting’. The summer is probably the best time to target Whiting but they are available all year round. Now we’re in the depths of an Aussie winter, it’s probably a good time to restock some of your Whiting Kit. Throughout this article I will refer to fishing rods and reels and assorted kit that are perfect for Whiting. Check the links at the bottom of the article for a range of rods, reels lures and assorted tackle, brilliantly priced to get you kitted out for ‘Summer Whiting’.
The best places to find Whiting?
Whiting reside in the salt water inshore grounds and are prolific on our beaches. While Whiting can be caught some distance up river, the start of the brackish will generally put the brakes on the Whiting bite. Structure is critical, not the man made pylons and racks that attract Bream, but the holes, hollows, drop offs and subtle undulations of the sea bed. The edges of weed beds, sand and mud banks are perfect locations. Whiting live in the shallows and will forage the sea bed in waters a few inches to 6 meters deep (up to 12 meters for King George), they’re looking for worms, yabbies, pipis and other invertebrates uncovered by wave and current action. They will also take small bait fish. KG Whiting love fresh Squid. Beach gutters, deep and shallow, are brilliant for Whiting. Light wave action is perfect.
The best Whiting Fishing Rig – Rods and Reels
A general purpose 7-8 foot rod and 3000 reel combination will see you covered for most Whiting scenarios, a hand-line will suffice for that matter, they’re not a complicated fish. But you can, and maybe should, create a Whiting arsenal that sees you equipped for all locations, conditions, techniques and styles. Essentially, it comprises of 3 rods and 3 reels.
A 7 foot full graphite spin rod, lightweight, rated 2 to 4kg. Strap on a spin reel to balance, size 1000 to 2500. This is the rod you will be using most of the time. It covers all of your closed water applications from land based to the boat and Kayak. Use mono or braid for casting fishing flesh and live baits or for casting lures. This rig is ideal for the beach also, weather permitting. Whiting can literally be just centimetres from the edge, in less than a foot of water. They comb the wash looking for food, as it slides up and down the beach. Why hold on to a 12 footer if it’s just not necessary. The key feature of the rod is a sensitive tip.
A 10 to 12 foot full graphite spin rod, lightweight, suitable for a spin reel 3000 to 5000. Again, the tip should be sensitive but strong enough to handle the rigors of more powerful casting. This outfit is primarily for the beach. You will be using mono or braid with flesh and live baits. Essentially, the length is for casting purposes. This combo will also be useful for fishing wider rivers, where the drop off is some distance from a gently sloping river bank. When the tide is in, it can be difficult to reach the strike zone with a smaller rod.
Outfit 3 is a dedicated beach rod. It’s graphite, 12 to 13 foot and can be spin or Alvey style. For the spin rod, strap a 6000 or 8000 reel to the rod. Yes, this sounds heavy for a humble Whiting. The reason is simple however. Just because the weather is acting up a little and the wave action is a little more aggressive, doesn’t mean there isn’t good Whiting to be had. If you need weight to hold your position or get over a sure break to a distant gutter, weight and strength is the answer. Don’t feel too nervous about upping your mono rating. It’s a lot better than casting with light line, only to hear your line snap under the pressure of the cast. If you have to beat the wind and hold the bottom, weight is the only answer.
Tips for Whiting Rod and Reel Selection
- Be cautious of being too brand loyal. Understand your budget then look at specs and ratings. There are so many excellent manufactures competing for your dollar. Stubbornly sticking to a brand might see you miss the best tool for the job at a better price.
- Quality finesse outfits are usually more expensive and often suffer in the hands of children, newbies and careless anglers. For the kids and the ‘rough’ anglers look for an outfit that is a little more robust.
- Most general purpose rods are a little less sensitive in the tip. This is for obvious reasons, they’re pointed at all sorts of fish. Consider the outfits listed above and purchase, ‘built for purpose’ equipment. A sensitive tip can make all the difference when hunting Whiting.
The best Whiting Fishing Rig – Rigs and terminal tackle
For outfit 1, spool up with mono to 6 pound if you’re casting flesh and live baits. Of course you can fish lighter still, depends on how brave you are feeling. For drifting in your boat or kayak, it might be wiser to fish a little heavier. Fluoro leader to 6 pound is ideal, the hot tip is to get a leader as soft as possible. Use a long shank hook, size 4 to 8 and always go for the top brands. They are perfect for baiting live worms, yabbies and pipis and the long shank is easier to remove from the long snout of a Whiting. Run a long leader up to a swivel, and weight for conditions. A ball sinker is best. Simple is always the first option but a variation might be a paternoster rig for drifting or twin hooks on twin leaders for double hook-ups when casting into schools. If using a paternoster, ensure your bait hangs below the sinker.
When casting lures choose braid 2 to 6 pounds. A leader to 6 pound is ideal. A leader length just over a meter is generally advisable for best action and casting balance.
For outfit 2, spool up with 9 to 12 pound line. Feel free to up that to 15 but keep in mind lighter is usually best, depending on conditions. The rig and hook are the same as in outfit one, however a larger ball sinker is likely required but should only be heavy enough to match conditions and casting requirements. Again, a long leader is suggested for inviting more bites but not too long as casting will likely be compromised.
For Outfit 3, Line rating will be determined by the rating of your chosen rod. The first rule is balance. The second is, as light as conditions allow. You are using this rod because the sea and wind conditions are acting up. It’s likely you are using significant led to cast and hold the bottom. You will need a line rating that will handle the pressure of a hard cast. Again the rig is the same as the first two outfits, with the exception being that you may wish to shorten the leader, for better casting. A larger swivel is also recommended for outfit 3.
The Best Whiting Lures
Whiting will take soft plastics, including grubs and fish tails. Surface lures however like poppers and stick baits have been a revelation for Whiting lure fishing. Casting lures at Whiting is still not widely practiced but there is an ever increasing band of Whiting anglers spreading the word and preaching about its effectiveness. Braid is pretty well essential. Jerking, blooping or ‘walking the dog’ encourage attack from below. Working out speeds is often based on experiment for each session. Adding pauses to the retrieve is often very effective and erratic retrieves, often a default when experimenting, can entice plenty of interest.
The Best Baits for Whiting
Without a doubt the best baits for Whiting are live blood and sand worms, yabbies otherwise known as saltwater nippers and pipis. King George Whiting are very fond of fresh squid flesh. If you don’t have access to live baits the next best thing would be fresh peeled prawns. Using live baits however, is the key to getting big Whiting. There is nothing better.
Whiting Fishing Tips
- Keep the bait below the sinker. Even when drifting I would rarely, if ever, use a paternoster rig. This is particularly pertinent to King George Whiting.
- When fishing the beach and a Whiting shows interest in your bait, back slowly up the beach without striking. The fish will take the bait and you can gently lean back and set the hooks.
- As with many fish, dawn and dusk seem to be the best times to increase your catch. I would argue that using live bait is more important. With Live baits quality fish in big numbers are possible throughout the day.
- Look for current and wave action when searching for Whiting. It’s this action that reveals their prey.
- Saltwater nippers catch the biggest Whiting. Once during a beach session, I fished the same gutter, using, more or less, the same rig as a much older guy standing next to me. The gutter was only about 150 meters long and the tide was receding. I had live sand worms and was catching good fish. He was using yabbies and catching the biggest Whiting I had seen in my life.
- Avoid striking heavily when a Whiting bite, it’s easy to pull hooks, particularly if you’re fishing with braid.
- Longer leaders work best with Whiting. It allows live baits to move more naturally for longer, and encourages a more aggressive bite.
- When fishing the beach, if the tide is receding, fish the front of the gutter. Fish the back of the gutter on an incoming tide.
Whiting put up a fight that defies their diminutive size. This is why they are so much fun and so loved by Australian anglers. Fishing for Whiting can be as relaxing or as intensely active as you choose. From the collection of bait, to catch and fillet, a Whiting expedition is always very rewarding. There’s a 40 cm plus Whiting out there with your name on it. For the South Aussie Anglers there’s a King George over 50cm shaping for a fight. Check the links below, stock up on your Whiting kit, bag out, and then feed the family with some of the most amazing tasting fish the ocean has to offer.