The Last Word on Whiting, Part III

In this the final part of ‘The Last Word on Whiting, Dave ‘Nugget’ Downie takes a look at the type of water the majority of whiting like to live and feed in during the summer and winter time.

 
Nev Wyatt with a whopper whiting.

Nev Wyatt with a whopper whiting.

First we need to get one thing straight, whiting are a sandbank species, which means they spend the majority of their lives foraging on or around a sloping sand bottom. They feed by facing the same way as the tidal flow and use their nose to forage and burrow into the sand looking for crustaceans or worms. This all makes sense when you think about the fact that if they faced the other way the current would wash sand into their eyes. One of the secrets to catching good numbers of whiting is to move often. You don’t have to move far, often a few boat lengths is enough, but if you haven’t had a bite in 20 minutes, move.

Look to Technology

Utilising the latest technology will boost your catch rate - even of the humble whiting!

Utilising the latest technology will boost your catch rate – even of the humble whiting!

One of the most important tools for finding good whiting spots is Google Earth. I have spent many many hours, inch by inch scouring ariel maps looking for sandbanks then cross referencing them to nautical charts to estimate depth. If you find a sandbank that drops into deep water, you have a potential whiting spot worth investigating. In many SE Qld rivers the bottom is mud but if you look closely at the foreshore at low tide you’ll find locations where the mud has washed away and there are areas of sand. These are often on the inside of a bend in a river. Tidal flow and floodwater trying to turn the natura l bend in the river often scour a deep channel on the outside of the bend and a sandbank on the inside.

Locate the Drop Offs

Bev Wood with a lovely fish caught fishing near a drop off.

Bev Wood with a lovely fish caught fishing near a drop off.

The drop from that sand bank to the deeper water is usually a good place to fish for whiting. Most anglers relate whiting to summer, often calling them summer whiting. Although it’s true you will catch more whiting in summer, you will still catch them all year round if you follow a few simple tips. Providing the waterway is not discoloured by floodwater, in winter the whiting head up stream. They also prefer deeper water in winter, this is because thermoclines trap warm water down deep. I did some tests once with a thermometer, at the location I checked the water was four degrees warmer at five metres than it was at one meter. All you need to do in winter is find the deeper bottom-edge of a sandbank and you’ll find the  whiting.  There is a little known secret to finding XOS whiting, I’m talking competition winning fish over 40cm long and 700 grams in weight.

Monster Whiting Secrets

Most of these monsters come from land locked or semi land-locked lakes. The whiting move into these areas when they are small and with no current to fight and ample small crustacean to eat, they get very fat. I’ve seen summer whiting over a kilo come from golfcourse lakes, marina developments and canal estates. All the waterway needs is to be salt water and have some way for the fish to get in there when they are small. Have a look at Google Earth for lakes adjacent to saltwater rivers or creeks, there are plenty of them and if not fished out, most will hold trophy whiting and bream. In these situation you’ll often find small pawns out fishing worms because that is the dominant food for them.

Going With The Flow

Steve Roverts shows off yet another quality whiting.

Steve Roverts shows off yet another quality whiting.

One of the tips is to find where the water flows into the lake, it may only be on the last hour of the run in tide, but this will be the time and place to fish for all land locked species. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you hook giant herring, tarpon and even tailor, who also get into these lakes and grow big. Whiting are a very predictable species, while they may not feed on every tide, when they are on the hunt for food they always return to the same banks. At what part of the tide they return to a bank is more related to the amount of current than a specific part of tide run. After a tide change, the tide flow slowly increasesuntil it reaches a peak which is somewhere around the middle of the tide then it slowly decreases until it stops at the next tide change. This creates a continually varying amount of current on, around or over a sand bank.

And the final tip that if used will result in more success is this – whiting move from bank to bank according to the amount of current they prefer.

Dave

About Dave "Nugget" Downie

Dave ‘Nugget’ Downie was raised in the Snowy Mountains in southern New South Wales and grew up fishing for everything from local trout on fly in the Snowy lakes through to land based game on the south coast.

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