10 Whiting Tips and Tricks
Once you learn the tricks of the trade, a trip to the surf can land you an excellent fish-fry of whiting almost every time. Although not the most difficult fish to catch, there are many misconceptions, as well as regional differences throughout Florida, on how and when to catch whiting. These tips outline the top things you need to know to catch this small, but fine-tasting fish.
10 Things to Remember When Whiting Fishing:
The top 10 tips presented here list the general best ways to catch whiting. It is worth mentioning though, that no two beaches are alike, even if they seem that way from the outside. The Atlantic and Gulf coast differ a lot between the amount of tides per day (Gulf has only one tidal cycle per day, whereas Atlantic has two), the wave action (Atlantic has more), and the location of migratory fish. What this means is that there are many local tips you will learn from getting out there and fishing your favorite beach, and communicating with the other anglers in the area.
1. Diversify your bait.
Whiting feed on a variety of crustaceans (crabs and shrimps), small fish, clams, and several types of marine worms, but the top choices to use as bait are clams, sand fleas, peeled shrimp, and squid. If you’re using two rods, or have a multiple-hook rig, use one of each to see what the fish are biting that day.
Squid bait for catching whiting.
2. Ask around!
Just as you should diversify your bait on any given day to see what the fish are biting, you should save yourself the time and ask around. See what others have been catching whiting on in the area you plan on taking your next trip.
3. You don’t always have to cast far.
Many anglers think that you have to cast a hundred yards out to get any fish on the beaches. The truth is, on many days, most of the fish are actually in the along-shore channel just of the sand, and before that first sandbar. Never overlook this channel, especially during high tide, when the surf allows.
4. Don’t put all your baits in one spot.
Along most beaches, there are usually several sandbars, and troughs of deeper just in front from the waves that break on the bars. You never know where the fish are running, so always cast your rods in different troughs.
5. Learn to read the beach.
As you may have noticed from tips # 3 and #4, the fish are usually in the deeper troughs parallel to the shore. To find where these are, you need to learn how to “read” the beach. In general, the waves break when they hit those sandbars, and dig out deeper water after the bar. There are also usually many eddys (circling water opposite of the direction of the current) along the shore, where deeper water will be cut out and fish often move into.
6. Use light gear on calmer days.
If the surf is light, or you’re fishing the generally calmer waters on the Gulf coast, use light to medium gear (8-to- 12 pound test). Using as light of gear as possible will allow you to have more sensitivity in your line and rod, which will allow you to feel the slight taps of a whiting bite.
Rods for catching whiting.
7. Use heavy gear on rough days.
When the surf is rough, the fish are often hanging out on those sandbars farther out, because the wave action and rip currents are just too much to handle. A 10 or 12 foot surf rod with heavy tackle is usually required to cast far enough to get past the breakers, and the rods are tall to keep your line above the ways.
Whiting rods and reels.
8. Inshore, target the deep channels.
Whiting are not strangers to the deep channels inshore, particularly very close to the inlets, where they will ride the high tide inwards to feed on small crabs and shrimp. Target them within the channels using live bait or jigs.
9. Know where the fish are throughout the seasons.
Whiting are fairly migratory – they travel south for the winter, and back north for the summer. What this means is that if you’re a south Florida angler, summertime is not the best time to go out, but rather winter. The opposite is true for north Florida anglers (especially in the panhandle) – summertime is prime whiting fishing.
10. Communicate with other anglers.
As mentioned in tip #9, these fish move throughout the seasons. This is not clockwork however, as the weather in Florida can vary tremendously from year to year, depending on when cold fronts move through the state in the fall and winter. Communicate with other anglers on the forums to find out where the fish are during certain times of the year, as you await that major migration your way.