Whiting warm to the task
  |  First Published: November 2012

How fishing can change in a short time: We had a bit of a hard time before the water warmed up but I am happy to report the waters off the Hunter Coast are at the premium temperature for snapper, whiting, crabs, prawns, flathead and kingfish.

Whiting have started to show up in larger numbers and over the past few weeks their size has increased twofold. There were a lot of little tackers around but the bigger fish have moved onto the beaches now.

I have always said the freshest of baits get the better fish and I think freshly caught worms or pipis have to be the best options for whiting.

If, like me, you can’t catch worms too well you can buy beach worms from your local tackle shop. Pipis you can get straight under your feet on the beach and use them on the spot.

Bream, dart, flathead, tailor, salmon and jewfish all take these baits at times and some anglers who have been targeting whiting have been surprised at some of the bigger ‘by-catch’.

Small hooks at times do hook big fish, it’s just you need a little more gentle persuasion so the hook doesn’t straighten. I have caught big bream and flathead on No 1 suicide hooks meant for trumpeter and sand whiting on the beach.

These lip-hooked fish were only held by the faintest of strip of flesh. And remember, bigger hooks won’t catch smaller fish.

In the estuaries, trumpeter whiting have shown up over the sand and mudflats nosing around looking for food.

Most good tackle shops have live worms on hand. Bloodworms from up north are flown into Williamtown airport and distributed throughout the Hunter region.

These worms also take flathead, bream, flounder, jewfish and mullet. They probably are the deadliest all-round bait.

Flathead are now well over their Winter slumber and keen to attack lures in the river, while bream also should be around the middle sections of both the river arms.


Offshore fishing has gone crazy with schools of slimy mackerel showing up to pave the way for the big predators like mahi mahi, marlin, kingfish, trevally and reef species.

The fishing always gets to its peak when these fish are over the close reefs and time spent catching slimies for whole baits for trolling, cut bait for bottom fishing or slab baits for drifting should boost catches.

A whole fillet of slimy is one of the best baits for snapper, jewfish and kingfish,.

It’s really well worth spending an hour on the bait grounds to set yourself up for the session ahead. I’m tipping a hot, long Summer with great fishing offshore.


Prawning from now until late January is something you can get the kids into if they’re bored or if you want a cheap and different night out.

Choose nights when there is little or no moon with a mid-range tide running out to and find a sandy and slightly muddy bottom where the water is clear.

Quiet backwaters hold a lot of prawns so don’t restrict yourself to the main channels. Calmer water is safest for learners and young ones.

Crabbing should be getting better for muddies and blue swimmers. Both are easy targets in our estuaries, lakes and rivers.

Blue swimmers love mullet or luderick frames more than anything but a piece of meat from the freezer is a great back-up bait for dilly pots, traps and witch hats.

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