Taking the top whiting
  |  First Published: May 2015

Over the last few years, chasing whiting on surface lures has gained great popularity throughout certain anglers’ eyes. It is a high adrenalin style of fishing that appeals to the sports fisher in all of us!

Whiting are pelagic-like in behaviour and love nothing better than chasing a fast-moving lure; if the lure isn’t moving fast enough at a constant pace they will shy away from it. The way in which whiting smack a surface lure and the first screaming run as they try to spit a lure is truly addictive; the added opportunity to tangle with many fish in a session makes it a great way to spend time on the water.

Whiting are great bread and butter specie to target on surface lures in super shallow water because you don’t need to be an experienced angler to fish for these speedsters. Using the right gear, right technique and fishing the right areas will have you catching whiting in no time, even the kids can give it a go. Another great feature about whiting is they are an exceptionally good eating fish and when you see a rise on your lure and set the hook they give you a good run if you’re using light enough gear, which makes for a great day on the water. Lastly, when a whiting is about to be slid into the net, 8/10 times he or she will have mates following right behind. If you or the person you’re fishing with is quiet and quick, there is a good chance for a second hook up.


Whiting are known for their distinctive colour and their long-thin body shape, which is why they can swim and chase prey in shallow water as low as 20cm. They are found around the South and East Coast of Australia, from King George whiting in the deeper water down south to your summer and winter whiting in Queensland, which will be found in your local estuarine systems and beaches cruising the sand flats, gutters and channels.

Where to find them

Finding shallow sand flats on a run-out tide is the easy part, finding those elusive whiting is another! A few key points are vital to find the fish.

Fishing when there is a little bit of wind around is key as it creates chop on the water. Likewise, only a little sunlight helps the whiting to trail the lure without direct sunlight shining in their eyes.

Another hot tip is to keep an eye out for shovelnose sharks. The sharks sift the bottom for food and the whiting will often follow them in schools and eat the scrapes.

Flats with a steady current flow will work great because it gives the whiting a chance to snatch the bait from the flowing water, like yabbies, worms and prawns.

Lastly look out for small gutters and deeper channels on the sand flats as the bigger elbow-slapper whiting can be sitting in and around that typically deeper water waiting and feeding on bigger prey, like prawns and yabbies.

Peak bite time

The moon is another factor for a peak bite time. On a full moon is when the river prawns run and whiting love prawns. Fishing 3 days before and a couple days after the moon are the best time to throw surface lures for them as they think it’s a fleeing prawn.

This should have you landing a nice feed of beautiful summer and winter whiting.

What tackle

When talking tackle there are two key terms to always keep in mind – ‘fish light to get the bite’ and ‘match the hatch’.

For the last 12 months I have found using a light and comfortable rod and reel combo is key as some days you can be twitching and popping a lure for quite a while. This can make your wrist sore.

For whiting, choose a small reel like a 1000 sized Shimano reel and a 1-3lb rod, which has a soft tip to impede the most action into the lure. Line wise you are wanting to use a thin diameter PE braid around 0.6mm which is roughly 4-6lb as this will increase your casting distance. I find PE Resin Sheller made by Yamatoyo is the best stuff as it is super thin and smooth through your guides.

Lastly using a non-fluorocarbon leader like Yamatoyo Fighter (Pro Line) is more effective. A traditional fluorocarbon leader line will make the lure sink and create drag, and hampers its swimming action; but using a non-fluorocarbon leader allows the leader to float, which will give your surface lure maximum action and won’t create drag and resistance like fluorocarbon does as it is a sinking line.

Again, the leader must remain light and around 7’ long. The 4lb and 6lb is my ideal leader to use and 3lb if necessary, but the lighter the leader the less control you will have over your lure, especially in windy conditions.

How to

Whiting, being a pelagic-like fish, means if you’re working your lure too slow they will tend to shy away, so keeping a consistent winding speed is always the key; just act like you are fishing for trevally.

One of the best techniques to use when whiting fishing is to keep your rod tip low to the water, when you get a hit and the fish grabs the hooks try not to strike up in the air like normal, as you can pull the hooks. Alternatively, striking downwards will have you setting hooks better, which means landing more fish.

Fishing surface lures for whiting include poppers and walkers, which means the retrieves will vary. So if I use a popper, I will constantly wind while twitching my rod tip with no pausing. Using a surface walker, I will use a constant wind with a rapidly fast twitching action of the rod tip with no pauses.

If these two techniques doesn’t produce, then let your lure sit on the surface as it hits the water until the disturbance from the lure disappears and then rapidly twitch or pop your lure for around 10m and pause again for around 5 seconds. This typical technique can work if the whiting fishing is slow. If you are doing the pausing technique and a whiting is following do not pause the lure, as the fish will shy away.

Lure selection

To be successful catching whiting on surface lures you need to be able to choose the right size, right shape, and lastly right colour. I try and keep my surface lures to a minimum when I set off as it can get to confusing what to use when and where.

The selection I like to take with me is: Ecogear PX45, Bassday 70F Sugarpens, River2Sea 65mm SkinnyDogs, Zipbait Skinnypops and Ecogear PP60 Poppers. The lure mentioned above I like to replace the split rings and hooks with size 1 split rings and size 12 trebles using decoy hardware as I find I get a better hook up running a size 12 treble. All these lures have provided good success.

Colour selections can vary depending on the watercolour, type of bottom, type of bait in a particular area, sunny or overcast day and lastly personal choice. So asking your local tackle store is a great start. Overall use what works for you, because at the end of the day, everyone likes fishing different lures and have their favourites.


Hope this article will help you in catching a feed of beautiful Queensland whiting on surface lures and remember persistence is the key.

Any questions feel free to drop in or even call me or any of the boys at Davo’s Tackle World Noosa and we will be more than happy to help with your needs.

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