Topwater whiting fishing on lures is fun, exciting and accessible to anyone living along the Aussie coastline. Today’s interview focuses on one of the original “whiting on poppers” destinations though, Tuross Lake – and to take us there is gun angler and Tuross local Steve Starling.
Fishing for Whiting with Lures: A Comprehensive Guide to Tackle, Techniques, and the Best Lures
Australia is home to a variety of whiting species, and angling enthusiasts are increasingly turning to lures for an exhilarating fishing experience. In this article, we’ll explore the different whiting species found in Australian waters, delve into their biology and ecology, and provide valuable insights into the tackle and whiting lures that can enhance your fishing adventures.
Whiting Species in Australia and Their Distribution
Australia boasts several whiting species of interest to recreational fishers. The most prominent are the King George Whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus), the Sand Whiting (Sillago ciliata), and the Yellowfin Whiting (Sillago schomburgkii). Each species has its unique characteristics and preferences, contributing to the diversity of whiting fishing experiences across the country.
King George Whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus): King George Whiting, commonly known as KG Whiting, are widely distributed along the southern coastlines of Australia. From Victoria to South Australia and Tasmania, these prized fish inhabit estuaries, coastal waters, and bays. Recognizable by their silver bodies and distinctive markings, King George Whiting are renowned for their delectable taste, making them a sought-after catch among anglers. Increasingly, King George whiting are being caught by anglers using soft plastic lures.
Sand Whiting (Sillago ciliata): Sand Whiting are prevalent in the coastal waters of northern Australia, particularly in Queensland. Their distribution extends from New South Wales to Western Australia. These whiting species are characterized by their slender bodies, silver coloration, and a distinctive dark mark on their tail base.
Yellowfin Whiting (Sillago schomburgkii): Yellowfin Whiting are commonly found in the shallow sandy and seagrass-covered bottoms of estuaries and bays. Their distribution spans the coastal areas of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Identified by their yellow-tinted fins, these whiting species are known for their playful nature when hooked.
Biology and Ecology of Key Whiting Species
Understanding the biology and ecology of whiting species is crucial for targeting whiting on lures. All whiting species are opportunistic feeders, primarily preying on small crustaceans, mollusks, and baitfish. They often forage in shallow waters, making them accessible targets for lure enthusiasts. However, their small, downturned mouth can make them a challenge to hook.
During the warmer months when prawns become active in the estuary systems it’s not unusual for whiting to opportunistically take prawns from the surface. This behaviour has resulted in the development of topwater whiting lures and associated techniques for targeting surface feeding fish.
During the breeding season, whiting migrate to estuaries and shallow coastal areas to spawn. Anglers can capitalize on this behavior, focusing their efforts on these productive zones. It’s important to note that whiting have relatively small mouths, requiring a finesse approach in lure selection and presentation.
Tackle Whiting Fishing with lures
When it comes to fishing for whiting with lures, selecting the right tackle is paramount for success. Long casting is important, so choose a light to medium-light spinning rod, ideally around 6 to 7 feet in length, paired with a 1000-2000 sized reel to handle the spirited runs of whiting. A 4-8lb braided line is plenty to handle whiting and will enable long casts with light lures, whilst a 6 to 10 pound leader will enable the lure to work effectively whilst providing protection if species like flathead eat the lure.
The best whiting lures are typically small topwater stickbaits and poppers when they’re surface feeding. Small soft plastic lures such as curltail grubs, worms, soft plastic prawns and yabbies will often do the trick when they’re feeding on the bottom. when using soft plastics, either us ethem unweighted or use jig heads ranging from 1/16 to 1/4 ounces, depending on the water depth and current. Use hooks with a wide gape to increase hookup rates. Small metal blades and small crankbaits occassionally take whiting as a bycatch when targeting other species.
ALF Episodes About Whiting Fishing On Lures
The ALF episodes below either focus 100% on how to catch whiting using lures, or they have a significant component about targeting whiting.
- Once thought of only as a bait fishing species, whiting are now routinely targeted on lures in our estuaries, bays and beaches.
- During the warmer months when prawns are active on the east coast it is possible to target whiting using surface lures for visually exciting fishing.
- Lure fishing for whiting usually takes place in shallow gutters that run along quiet beaches, on sand spits and banks. Patches of seagrass are also great whiting habitat.
- Lures for this style of whiting fishing usually need to be retrofitted with small, super fine hooks. Often the rear treble hook is replaced with a small assist hook to improve hook set rates.
- King George whiting are often found in slightly deeper water and are usually targeted using soft plastic lures or small blades.
- There are several species of whiting found in Australia. The most common angling species are sand whiting, trumpeter whiting, yellowfin whiting, and King George whiting.
- Sand whiting (summer whiting), are found along the eastern and southern coasts of Australia. They grow to around 30cm in length.
- Trumpeter whiting (winter whiting), are found in southern Australia and can grow up to 35 cm in length.
- Yellowfin whiting are found on the southern and western coasts and can grow up to 35 cm in length.
- King George whiting are found in southern Australia, and are the largest of the whiting species, growing to 70cm in length.
- Most whiting species prefer sandy or muddy bottoms in shallow waters and estuaries, particularly around seagrass beds. King George whiting are also found on sand and rubble patches between reefs and in slightly deeper water to around 5-6m.
- Floating stickbaits of around 70-100mm length are among the most popular lures for whiting. Lures with a “walk the dog” action are best. Ones that spit a little drop of water ahead of the lure when they’re twitched are extra effective.
- Small surface poppers are also effective for whiting fishing when the fish are a little more aggressive.
- Small soft plastic worms and grubs in the 50-100mm sizes, rigged weedless or on a standard jig head can work well.
- Small metal blades of around 35-40mm in size can also be effective on whiting at times
The humble whiting might not be the first species that you consider when you’re fishing in Central Queensland, but it’s a fun and viable lure fishing target all year around. Mackay fishing identity Luke Galea explains.
Usually when we talk the Clarence River system we are focused on bass, bream, jacks or jewfish. But Nick Haynes also does pretty well targeting Clarence whiting on surface lures.
Lake Macquarie might cop a lot of fishing pressure over the summer months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great opportunities on offer for those in the know about how, when and where to fish! Dan Guilfoyle shares a lifetime of local knowledge for those keen to hit the water in the coming months.
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Spring is a great time to fish the Hervey Bay area land-based or from a small boat or kayak. In today’s ALF episode local personality Scotto Mitchell helpsput us onto some awesome fish with simple tackle and techniques.
Botany Bay is an incredibly productive system and in the winter months the crowds thin out and the fishing goes off! Gary Brown has written numerous books and articles on fishing Botany Bay and in today’s ALF episode he shares his favourite winter fishing spots.
Whiting are a genuine target for the angler who enjoys flicking soft plastic lures from a kayak on light tackle. Alan Bonnici lets us in on a few secrets.
Port Lincoln is well know for it’s XOS Samson fish, kings, snapper and tuna, but it fishes really well for bread and butter species, too. In Episode 325 Dan Challinger takes us wading the flats for whiting on lures.
Shark bay may be renowned for its amazing pelagic and reef species, but there are plenty of bread and butter fish to be caught too, like the humble whiting. Ben Svenson returns to ALF to share some gems on how to target these feisty little fish on lures.
South Australia’s yellowfin whiting differ from the east coast species, but the two species share a voracity for a well presented surface lure. SA fishing identity David Hall takes some time to share his intimate knowledge of the species and how to catch it in this episode of ALF.
Serial podcast guest Brad Smith shares his tips for catching SE Queensland and Northern NSW whiting on surface lures on the flats.
Lake Cathie on the NSW Mid North Coast is an awesome bread and butter estuary fishery, with topwater whiting being one of the primary targets available to anglers. Karl Attenborough is a well known local sand flats angler and shares his knowledge in this episode.
Whiting are a surprise package and a surprisingly good lure fishing target. Scott Amon gives up his secrets for catching whiting on lures – from tackle to the “secret techniques”.