The fighting whiting
  |  First Published: November 2008

By the beginning of November the water should have definitely started to warm up in the estuaries and offshore, with more whiting about on the beaches and on the sand flats in the estuaries.

The bream will have started to take more lures off the top of the water and the big flathead will have started to move out into the bays to start breeding.

Always on the lookout for more information on fishing, I was having a browse through the AFN catalogue and came across the book The Australian Whiting by Kerry Wright, who writes that there are 11 members of the whiting family around Australia. The sand whiting is the most sought-after species in our waters

I have found whiting to be very determined and pugnacious fighters that never give up. They can be very finicky about what and when they eat and in turn they are great to eat themselves.

To the untrained eye, looking for whiting over the sand flats can be a very daunting task because can change their colour to blend into their surroundings.

Generally the upper body is tan, while the underbelly is silvery to white but this will vary on the type of whiting you are targeting and where you are catching them.

I have caught sand whiting in Port Hacking near weed beds in 15m of water that have been a bronze-olive on top and dull grey on the bottom. Just 10m away on the sand flats, the whiting have been almost the colour of the sand.

I cannot do without my polarised sunglasses when chasing whiting. They reduce glare and enable me to see further into the water to locate fish or where they are hiding or feeding.

Around my area I find the best baits are pink nippers and beach, tube, squirt or blood worms.

When it come s to soft plastics I like 6” Gulp Sandworms on 1/16oz 1/0 jig heads and when chasing them on the surface I prefer a Lucky Craft NW Pencil.

Places worth a shot in Port Hacking include Cabbage Tree Point, Maianbar sand flats, Gunnamatta Bay, and the mud flats in South Arm and North West Arm.

Botany Bay has a number of whiting spots including the beach from Dolls Point to the breakwall at the entrance to the Cooks River, Towra Point, Silver Beach and the small beach just inside the north headland of Botany Bay.

In the Georges and Woronora rivers you can’t go past the sand flats at the entrance of the Woronora River.

These flats will produce whiting, flathead and bream on all tides, you just have to move around a bit.

When using pink nippers for bait I like to move the bait around by starting with my rod tip down at about 20° from the surface of the water, then slowly lift it to about 80°, effectively moving the bait about a rod length along the bottom and winding in slack line.

This slight movent of the bait usually gets the whiting excited enough to attack. When I feel a bite I again lower the rod tip, take up the slack and then strike.

Another asset to helping you fish for whiting would be the DVD Fishing for Whiting with Lee Rayner by AFN. Even though this DVD is about how to catch King George whiting in Victoria, the information is brilliant. Lee spends so much time explaining how and when to berley, how and where to anchor your boat, what rods and rigs to use and what baits to use. Everyone who views this DVD will learn something.


At this time of year in Botany Bay the bream will be starting to move about a bit and it is essential that you do the same.

One of the places that I fish in the Bay is about 200m off the end of the old runway. I pick a spot and anchor up, cast out two or three rigs with leaders of 1m to 2m, set the bait runner drags and wait.

While waiting I have a steady but small stream of berley going. If I haven’t had any takes in about 30 minutes I reposition my boat about 50m away and start the process again.

If I start catching fish I don’t move until I haven’t caught one for about 30 minutes.

One of my favourite spots for chasing flathead is The Patches at Towra Point, where I use soft plastics or live poddy mullet. You could also try fishing the weed beds off Silver Beach or the sand beds near The Sticks.

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