These days many anglers choose to use lures to catch big sand, yellowfin or summer whiting on the East Coast, however using baits on long whippy rods is becoming something of a dying art, and is still a great - and probably more effective - method of gathering a feed of these tasty little fish. Bait anglers can also get stuck into some stonking whiting in excess of 40cm with the right approach, and best of all, you don’t need a boat to be in with a shot at one of these ‘elbow slappers’!
In most estuaries, whiting will prefer to hang out near or on sand. Sand flats or small channels with yabby holes and the occasional patch of mud, weed or shale are highly sought by whiting anglers. Whiting need a reason to be there, and a barren sand flat with no yabby holes isn’t likely to harbour nearly as many fish.
One thing to remember is these fish, despite often being called summer whiting, can be caught all year, however they are easier to find in good numbers in the warmer parts of the year, particularly in more southern regions from Northern NSW to East Victoria. Further north, they can be caught comfortably throughout the winter months.
Another thing worth noting is you don’t need to be in deep water to catch them. In fact, on high tide they will venture up onto sand flats usually uncovered at low tide, and fishing in 30cm of water won’t put you out of the action at all! At low tide, they will tend to retreat into the shallow channels around these flats and continue foraging for food as the water drops.
Baits are something hotly debated by many old hands of the whiting world, however yabbies (either freshly pumped or soaked in methylated spirits and frozen), blood worms, beach worms and pipis all work well on summer whiting, and can usually be collected nearby. Otherwise, many tackle stores will sell these baits.
Rigging up is fairly simple, with a long, light fibreglass rods like the Gary Howard Breambo 10’6” 2-3kg 3W 2 Piece Mid Mount suitable, and can be fished with either a side cast or spin reel. The rig is fairly simple too, with a light 4-6lb monofilament or fluorocarbon trace and a running sinker rig consisting of a ball sinker (size depending on current), a small swivel, and a size 4 hook. Hooks such as the Gamakatsu Baitholder Hooks, Black Magic KS Hooks and Mustad Bloodworm Hook Ex-Long Shank are great, depending on what bait you have! The addition of some STM Red Tubing & Beads can be handy for a little bit of extra attractant, but is by no means necessary.
If you want to score a feed of one of the tastiest estuary fish around, don’t knock back a bit of bait fishing for summer whiting!
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