By now we should have put our beanies, woolly jumpers and assorted collection of winter species lures and rigs back into storage and dust off the wide brimmed hat, pick up a packet of live bloodworms, gear up the light weight rod and check out the summer range of plastics, poppers and minnows for the whiting. If not, a damn good excuse is necessary.
Now that Spring is officially here we can get used to the longer days, bigger tides and warmer temperatures (though Wednesday’s cold start threw us!). Plus schools of big summer whiting are definitely on the comeback. Sillago ciliat:summer or sand whiting are one of the bread and butter species in South East Queensland waters. Sand whiting is one of the largest Australian whiting species, growing up to 50cm or 1.25kg in the record books. The legal minimum size for sand whiting is 23cm and there is a bag limit of 30 fish in one session. They generally live for around 4 years and spawn after 1 year or around 21cm in length. So anyone who keeps an undersized whiting is infact robbing the rivers of future whiting and stopping the cycle of life.
Whiting are easily identifiable with their whole body being silver (which looks white) and a brassy yellow underside. They also often have rows of small dark dots by their dorsal fins, and a dark blotch is located at the base of the pectoral fin.
These schooling fish begin to feed throughout the coast’s rivers during September and the bigger adult summer whiting living in the upper reaches of the rivers or coming to feed from the surf gutters will be found foraging throughout the middle to lower reaches of the river. Whiting forage on yabbies, worms, small soldier crabs and small shellfish in the sandy banks as they move throughout the river. The dry conditions we’ve had this winter has kept most of the rivers in SE Qld pretty clear and clean, and the Maroochy River is not the exception. While the water remains so clear, anglers are trying harder to outwit the whiting by utilising red beads and plastic, red chemically sharpened hooks and blood worm coloured Gulp soft plastics. To catch good numbers of these great fish we need to replicate what the whiting are feeding on and present the bait in such a way that it looks natural.
Blood worms can be purchased at your local bait and tackle store and are the best bait for whiting due to the bleeding which attracts whiting from far and wide. Yabbies can be pumped from the flats on low tide, so as anglers we have top quality bait at our finger tips. Blood worms should be rigged on the hook so that they lay flat in the mud with a small section of the worm hanging off the end of the hook.
Pumping live yabbies is still very productive and cost effective for most anglers. The only problem with yabbies is that when sitting on the bottom stationary, the big whiting can literally suck them clean off the hook. The best way to combat this is to lash the very end tail section of the yabby onto your hook using elasticized multi strand bait cotton called ‘bait cocoon’. There are no knots required, just wrap the cotton around the tail several time tightly and this means the whiting have to work a lot harder to get it off the hook and hopefully it will get hooked up I the process. At $3 a spool bait cocoon is a cheap way to increase your catch rate. The other way to ensure a better hook up rate using yabbies is to drift fish with them. Summer whiting are more like to swallow the yabby whole on the drift, where as they will pick at it when stationary.
Whiting can be found in a very wide range of places from calm areas where the water eddies to the more open tidal banks where the water flows quite fast. Whether the water flows slow or fast, the key is to keeping your bait moving constantly in order to lure or attract their attention. When fishing a shallow, relatively still bay the key is to cast well away from the boat and allow the bait to settle. If no bites are forthcoming slowly wind in a few metres and stop again to give the whiting a chance to consider your bait is a moving worm or prawn. Repeat the process until the bait is almost back to the boat or shore and then cast out in a similar space but keep the retrieve motion similar.
In more tidal areas in a boat, the better technique is usually to drift. Drifting keeps the bait moving and gives good area coverage with your baits. When drifting, always note where the fish are caught as the school may be feeding within a limited range and the drift can be shortened to concentrate on the most productive location. Drifting is also handy for probing large areas if the anglers are new to a particular place and drifting always yields a few bream or flathead as a bonus.
Next week we shall take a closer look at best tackle options to target whiting this Spring and Summer. For now start assessing your local area for possible whiting feeding grounds to prepare for the hunt!
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
Noosa: Good whiting just north of Teewah before the wind picked up, bream and chopper tailor also off the National Park rocks. Flathead scattered throughout the lower reaches whiting and a few bream in the Frying Pan, trevally between Woods Bay and Weyba Creek. Bass to 1.2kg have been caught near Wappa Falls and Borumba Dam yesterday.
Maroochy: Tailor at night just south of Yaroomba Beach and also along Mudjimba and Marcoola beaches. Bream and dart near Pincushion Island during the day. Good flathead taking pumpkin seed and nuclear chicken coloured soft plastics along the Black Bank, in the Northern Channel between Goat Island and Godfreys Road and in the mouth of Petrie Creek. Sand whiting throughout the lower reaches and a few trevally at the Cod Hole on high tide.
Kawana: Dart, bream and flathead along the beaches during the day, with tailor at night toward Point Cartwright. Plenty of bream in the deeper channels and around the moorings. Flathead and whiting upstream from McKenzies Bridge and mud crabs in the creeks.
Caloundra: Tailor on the Happy Valley side of the Bar and along the NE tip of Bribie. Flathead and whiting around the sand banks inside the Bar and in the mouth of Bells Creek. A few luderick along Bulcock Beach and bream in the Blue Hole.
Captain Joe spent a well deserved break at the Maroochy River mouth using fresh mullet fillet to lure this catch of bream.
Conner Batey fished with his Dad on the weekend along the sand bank at Cotton Tree when these 400g whiting snapped up his bloodworms.
Natasha fished with Brian from Angler’s Advantage upstream from Bli Bli bridge to target flathead on soft plastics.