Hey readers I’m Steele. I’m from north Gold Coast and most of my fishing consists of chasing jacks in my Angler’s Dream 3 kayak from Dream Kayaks. The muggy part of summer is well and truly set in now and the overcast, stormy days look like they are here to stay. I hope you’ve all had a productive time on the water whichever species you chase.
February and March bring the best surface bite period of the year. So I’ve been waiting for the rain to make the creeks dirtier and now finally the prawns are running. While it’s tempting to throw those big G Splashes around, don’t forget about one of the most aggressive feeders in our estuaries. Whiting are often regarded as a frozen-prawn-snatching, bread and butter fish, but when chasing a surface lure they transform into a wild aggressive beast, especially when you hook a 40cm+ model that has no intention of giving your lure back.
Shallow sand flats up to about a metre are your best bet, with the ledges and drop-offs usually holding the fish. The days I look for are overcast and humid, which we are sure getting a lot of now. I don’t worry too much about dusk and dawn low light periods. If you get to the spot and see the prawns flickering across the surface and silver flashes amongst the madness, just fire your lure out there, remembering to bring the lure back with the current to maximise your chances.
In my opinion there is no better way to chase Whiting than by kayak. The ability to get right up in sometimes 10cm of water and keep going is invaluable. You can cover lots of ground drifting, but don’t rule out jumping out of the kayak and beaching it or tying it onto you so it doesn’t float away and continuing to wade the flats with your kayak by your side.
The gear I use fishing for Whiting is a nice light 1-3kg 7ft rod and 2000 reel with a smooth drag. The most important part here is your line. Your best chance at hooking up is to be able to cast a huge distance with light poppers and stick baits. The main line I use is Gliss Monotex 12lbs. While this might seem heavy I assure you this line is incredible for casting. For the leader I use about 6lbs fluorocarbon. For most top water purposes mono leader is better as it floats, although I like to work these lures pretty fast and I think the heavier fluoro leader helps to keep those small poppers tracking properly. My favourite lure is an Atomic Hardz Pop 50 in yellow chartreuse as they cast a mile, track well and have a great action. There is plenty of great surface lures out there Bassday Sugapen 70f, Rebel Pop R, Strada Virals, Storm Gomoku Poppers to name a few. I also like to throw a Cranka Crab out behind me when drifting and usually they get inhaled with minimal effort. The best retrieve for whiting is actually quite easy if you’ve never used surface lures before because you want to just keep that popper running across the surface and don’t stop if you get hits or see boils, just keep it going. Either constant quick pops or just skittering across the surface with a constant wind and vibrating the rod tip to get them to spit water. The key here is to try and emulate a fleeing prawn skittering across the surface.
Check out Dream Kayaks to find a kayak to suit your unique fishing style.
Lengths of fishing kayaks we stock are: 270cm, 304cm and 400cm.
When they hit, don’t strike. Allow them to take the lure and run. Keep your drag super light because it’s easy to pull hooks on these fish. Their mouths are designed for scavenging along the bottom in search of crabs, worms and yabbies so most hook-ups won’t be in the mouth and could be anywhere on their head or body. If fishing with a mate and one of you hooks up, don’t be shy to put a cast in behind them as there is probably a few whiting there fighting over the lure. You will also pick up some great bycatch doing this if you throw a pause in here and there. You’re sure to get a bream or trevally jump on but my most memorable bycatch was an 80cm flathead that gave me hell on light gear and came in with one treble of my little pop50 hanging out of its mouth along with a small trevally hanging off the other!
I think whiting are one of the tastiest fish around so I don’t mind keeping a couple, just enough for a fresh dinner. You tend to pick up the bigger, better fed models so remember to limit your catch and only take what you need. I hope I’ve given you some tips on chasing these amazing little sports fish and hope you take a chance at having some fun fishing again after a summer of stressing over jacks and pelagics.