Getting stuck into whiting
  |  First Published: March 2014

March signifies the start of migrational movements for some species. By the end of the month you’ll see surface schools of mullet and bream, along with increased numbers of whiting and bigger tailor on the beaches. The mulloway and kingfish will be following these species that are schooling up for their spawning run.

The king season off the rocks has been pretty ordinary. You’ll get the odd day when the kings seem to be prolific but the next day you’re back to getting only undersized fish. All you can do is keep trying! If you focus solely on kingfish, and put in a consistent effort, you will maximise your chances of catching them.

The rock blackfish are in good numbers, with trevally and silver drummer thrown in. I had some clients out for a luderick fish and there were a few anglers getting into the pigs in good numbers close by. The clients caught 12-15 fish with some silver drummer thrown in. They were up to 2kg, which isn’t huge but it’s a great size for the table. Peeled prawns (tiger, blue-tail or banana) work a treat.

My clients that day caught 11 good luderick to near 1kg. Most of the fish were caught on the shallow water high tide flats of Long Reef, 10 on hair weed and just one on cabbage weed. On the shallows, fish 30-60cm under the float.

A few nice catches of bream have been coming from the shallow headlands like Long Reef and Little Blue in Manly. Deeper headlands like Bluefish and Flat Rock at South Curl Curl are producing some good bream bags towards and after dark.

Snapper are still around in reasonable numbers. There are no large fish to report, but reasonable specimens around 900g-1kg are being caught in the washes and distance casting. Bluefish and Bangally Head (the North Avalon side especially) have some good reds.

When distance casting you should use a robust bait. Squid strips, cuttlefish strips, and salted striped and slimy mackerel fillet are good for aerodynamic casting.

For the washes, larger baits certainly work better. Half to full pilchards, fresh slimy mackerel fillets, unsalted striped tuna and squid strips all work well. Berley can be important to entice the fish, and you can expect a bycatch of salmon, bream, small kings and more.

When you’re snapper fishing try taking two outfits, one for the washes and the other for distance casting. For the washes, take a 6-10kg rod (I recommend a 12-13’, 6-8kg Live Fibre from Wilsons), and a reel that suits the medium mount rod, such as an Excella 4000 with 8kg mono like Platypus, Superflex or Tortue. These lines can handle the abrasion a little better than the softer monos. Alternatively you can use an Alvey with the low reel mount. A 600 to 650 will suit.

For a good distance casting outfit, throwing weights up to 150g, I recommend using a 13’ Live Fibre 8-12kg rod matched to a Windcast 5500 or Emblem 5500. Line-wise, a good option is 30lb TD Sensor braid or 10-12kg mono. This is a great beach jewfish setup as well.

For more comprehensive information on snapper outfits – but more importantly the locations, techniques and conditions to fish – send me an email for a guiding trip. That includes any of the species mentioned, and more.


The beaches have been productive for anglers fishing the right tides and times. The whiting are in good numbers with catches of up to 20 fish from just over the legal 27cm mark to 41cm. I saw one angler with a whiting that may have gone 45cm; it looked to be at least 850g.

The best location appears to be the North Narrabeen area, with all beaches producing whiting in variable numbers. It is worth getting there extra early – say, one hour before sunrise – with a high tide around sunrise to a few hours after. Have you ever gone down to the beach and flicked a bait in only 30-60cm of water just before dawn and got stuck into the whiting? It’s a great experience! Hooking a 35cm+ fish on 2-4kg line and a light rod is just magic!

When chasing whiting it’s not uncommon to encounter salmon, trevally, flathead, bream and the occasional school or sizable mulloway. All of these fish will pick up a live beachworm, tubeworm or bloodworm.

Other beaches worth investigating include mid to north Palm Beach, Bungan, Collaroy, Long Reef/Dee Why and Manly. Manly also has some good tailor activity after dark.

The flathead fishing from Manly, Curl Curl and Dee Why has been producing of late with some decent fish to 55cm. The soft plastic prawns from Zerek called Live Cherabin have been catching a few flathead. Live poddy mullet and ganged whitebait are also getting a few fish.


In the harbour there are good numbers of luderick. The Spit Bridge is producing on the northern side of the bridge, Middle Head is doing well and Dobroyd Head in North Harbour is producing quite a few also. Just remember to take in your own weed as it is prohibited to take any from this estuary system. And even though you’re in the harbour make sure you have your spike boots and treat Dobroyd and Middle Head areas as you would an ocean rock spot: with caution!

There are whiting coming from the back sand flats at North Harbour at night. Clontarf dog beach has some at night as well, and in the early hours. Use smaller worms for the best results. Bloodworms are the preferred bait but tubeworms are good as well.

Off the gas works at night there have been a few tailor caught in the early hours of the morning on ganged pillies. One of my clients, fishing independently, caught an 80cm king there on a whole fresh squid. Like the ocean rocks, there are a few undersized fish there as well.

My tip is this – if you are travelling a distance and your ocean beach or rock spot is not fishable, give the harbour a go. Take a light outfit and leave the beach/rock outfits in the car. Have plan A-B-C and put in the research first. Otherwise give me a call and I’ll help you make the right decisions with skill and coordination.

For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.


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