The last word on WHITING: Part 2

whiting-banner In this educational & informative article ‘The Last Word on Whiting: Part 2’, South East Queensland based beach fishing specialist Dave ‘Nugget’ Downie looks at the gear and equipment you need and the best times and tides for everyone’s favourite … the whiting.

Terminal Tackle


Rob Noble with a beautiful and clean beach-caught whiting. Note the gutter behind him. Find a lagoon or gutter like this and you will find whiting.

Although whiting are one of the easiest fish to catch, you will improve your results if you use the right gear. You find whiting on a sand bottom, not around rocks or snags so three kilo mainline is plenty heavy enough. To that attach a metre long two kilo leader, although not essential I like to use fluorocarbon because its light refraction characteristics make it harder to see under water, fooling the larger more cautious fish. I prefer fine wire hooks, medium, not long shank in size four or six. There are some great worm hooks with barbs on the top of the shank in the tackle shops these days and they help hold the worm stretched out on the hook looking more natural than a bunched up ball. Sinker size is dependent on tidal flow but generally between a two and four ball. Let me put that another way – you should be fishing in a location that requires a two, three or four ball sinker to hold bottom. It is a fair bet if you can’t hold bottom with a four ball, you’re fishing in too much tidal flow and need to move out of the current and similarly, if you can hold bottom with less than a two ball you’re probably not fishing in fast enough current area. I’d estimate 99% of hard core whiting fishos use ball sinkers rather than any other shape. The theory is, being a ball it rolls around giving the bait movement but in reality, because you’re fishing on soft sand bottom, it makes little difference the majority of the time.

Best Rods

Nev Wyatt

Nev Wyatt was thrilled to catch this whiting … the perfect eating sized fish.

One of the keys to improving your catch is the type of rod you choose. Whiting specialists use long soft rods and for a very good reason: A fundamental mistake novice whiting anglers make is to try and hook the fish. It’s hard, but the secret to catching more whiting than you drop is to leave the rod alone when you get a bite. The general pattern of a whiting bite is, initially your rod will bounce a few times indicating a bite, then it will stop. If you wait, don’t touch the rod, the fish will usually come back, only this time the bite will be followed by a solid pulling down of the rod tip. This is when you pick up the rod, lift and wind. For this reason, a short or stiff rod is not suitable for whiting, you need a rod with a super soft tip. The alternative is to fish with loose line and watch for movement of the line indicating a bite rather than the rod tip. This works exceptionally well, especially for big wary fish, but also is almost impossible to accomplish in tidal flow.

And Reels

Ron Allan

Ron Allan shows off another great sized fish … top catch Ron!

Unlike bream fishing where it is an advantage to be able to back wind and feed the fish line, a situation where Alvey reels reign supreme, whiting fishing is all about patience, lift and wind. If you’re using a long soft rod it is rare for a whiting to spin the drag, for this reason just about any reel will suffice however better quality reels handle fine line a lot better than cheap reels. For whiting fishing it is far better to use a reel you feel comfortable with than any special style as the reel does not give the angler any advantage.

Time & Tides

In most rivers and creeks the run out tide fishes better than the run in. On the run in tide whiting seem to be dispersed, small fish dominate catches on the shallow sandbanks and bigger fish are difficult to find. You will generally catch more fish at night than daytime. During daylight hours, especially in high traffic areas, you usually find the better numbers in the deeper section of a river or creek which are usually on a bend.

Pro Tip

Fishing buddies Shirley and Charles Hudson with a pair of quality whiting.

Fishing buddies Shirley and Charles Hudson with a pair of quality whiting.

One of the big secrets to whiting fishing from a boat is if you haven’t caught a fish in 20 minutes, move. You don’t need to move far and often it is better to move across a river putting you in different amounts of tidal flow than to move along river in the same tidal flow. It is an unexplained phenomena with the species that often a move in the dead of night will instantly produce a fish, almost as if the noise has woken them up. I know whiting specialists that will start their outboard every 20 minutes, give it a few revs then shut it down, which has a similar effect often producing a fish.

Where to Look

Whiting are a sand bank species, find a sand bank and you have a good chance of finding whiting. If you’re fishing from a boat, one of the best places to start looking is outside channel markers. These channel markers are there to divert boat traffic around sandbanks and are a signpost to whiting locations. Land based anglers need to do a bit of homework to find locations accessible from the bank. Use a Refedex or Google Earth to find access points on a river system, with Google Earth you can even see the sandbanks. As an example, look at some of the small suburban parks on the Gold Coast that back on to the Nerang River and its tributaries. The park near the junction of Allambi Ave and Ikinia Ave at Florida Gardens. The foreshores of James Overall Park near the Sundale Bridge. The sand beach on Boykambil Esplanade and Shoe St on the Coomera River and all of the nearby Jabiru Island.


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