Sand and yellowfin whiting are common warm season targets and both share similar looks and traits. Yellowfin whiting are found in both SA and southern WA, from Dampier to down south to Albany in WA, and from the bottom of Eyre Peninsula to Fleurieu Peninsula in SA. The SA and WA populations are believed to be different strains of the fish. While the sand whiting extends down the east coast, loosely from Cape York to Tasmania and has a slightly wider range of areas it'll inhabit, including the surf, but otherwise there's many similarities between them and yellowfin.
Standing up to your waist in warm water and casting baits and lures at packs of cruising whiting is about as easy as catching a top-notch table fish gets, and now is the prime time to be hassling many inshore areas for these fish. So how to best pin down some of these mini bonefish with a spread of lures or baits, either land based or from a small craft?
Like any shallow water fish the movements and presence of yellowfin and sand whiting is dictated by the tides. These fish will use an incoming tide to feed over shallow sand and mud banks, and will move through and feed in any holes, drains, channels and depressions. All these areas are hot spots to start your search for a bunch of gold flanks. Anglers can also follow the fish out with the tide, working any drop back areas as well.
Estuary waters and protected and semi protected beaches are prime starting points to being the hunt, with a milder setting best if you intend to use small lures. You can either wade or flick from a small boat to hit these areas. Shore anglers are in the box seat as whiting will push hard against shorelines as times, while boaties also have an advantage when it comes to covering ground and being positioned perfectly to fish edges and holes.
With whiting on lures you're essentially fishing the same bottom characteristics as you would with bait, and targeting zones where the fish will congregate or naturally feed, or you can be blind casting.
Yellowfin and sand whiting often hunt in packs in the shallows and will aggressively attack a host of surface and subsurface fake presentations. Topwater lures like 3-7cm poppers (such as the Brenious Risepop) and stickbaits provide the ultimate whiting on lures experience, with visual strikes and remarkably hyped-up attacks from these fish. One of the best tricks for topwater whiting is to vary your retrieves to suit the mood of the fish. Mostly a standard nagging pace pop or slash of your lure will get the job done, however every now and then you'll need to throw in pauses or speed it up to get the hit.
With surface lures consider changing trebles for fine wire versions, or replacing totally with assist hooks to increase your hook-up rate. Vibes and blades, and an assortment of other bream style lures will also catch whiting, with small soft plastics highly effective in some situations.
While lures are a hoot on whiting, you can't dismiss bait as a technique if you're after results and some mouth watering fillets!
Yellowfin and sand whiting are known to be much fussier than King George whiting for example when it comes to their bait preferences, with live bait often the first choice. A range of marine worms are popular for these whiting, ranging from seaweed worms collected from decomposing mounds of weed, through to a spread of beach worms. Thankfully during peak whiting season many tackle stores sell live worms and you can save yourself a lot of time and effort if you wish.
Saltwater yabbies, also known as nippers and bass yabbies, are probably the pick of the baits for whiting if you had a choice. They do require some effort to obtain however and can be fragile and easily removed from hooks, but they do get smashed. Dead offerings will also trick these whiting, albeit with somewhat mixed results at times, with small pieces of prawn, pipi and preserved worms a few options to try.
Running rigs and light leaders are the norm for this fishing, as you can be soaking baits in a only a couple of feet of clear water on occasions, giving the fish a good look at what you're serving them. A fine gauge and sharp size 6 hook, rigged on a length of Ocea Fluorocarbon of say 2-4kg, with a ball sinker for weight will put you in the running.
A handy tip for fishing baits if you're struggling is to try moving it every now and then as it does sucker in these highly visual feeders that have an inquisitive streak and they will come in for a look and a taste!
Whiting at any size all fight hard and on your 2-3kg flick stick outfit you can have a blast getting smoked by these fish.
When it comes to selecting a whiting outfit, a crisp tipped and sensitive rod like the Zodias 701 Ultra Light Spin, and a full load of light Power Pro on your reel with a decent length of Ocea Fluorocarbon as leader for stealth should see you armed to take on your nearest whiting population. A 1000-2500 sized spin reel like Stradic Ci4 is all you need to wrap up the tackle requirements.
Whiting can be moody like any fish and when they're fumbling with baits and only attacking lures half-hearted having the correct outfit will convert chances into fish in your esky. If there's one thing that's possibly better than catching sand or yellowfin whiting that's the tasty fillets at the end of the day!