When I began fishing seriously I joined the Fishraider site and found the members very helpful with advice and tips.
In the past couple of years I have been concentrating on targeting whiting from the beach.
I’m by no means an expert (we are always learning!) but I thought some rookie fishers might find what I’ve learnt interesting – and hopefully useful.
I spend most of my time fishing beaches between the NSW Central Coast and South Coast with 80 per cent of the time at Sydney beaches.
There have been some questions about the future of Alvey Reels, but they are my choice due to the simplicity of use and functionality. They are more expensive than spinning reels, but with a bit of care they will last forever. I use a size 600.
If you prefer a spinning reel I would recommend a size 400.
With an Alvey you need a low-mount rod. If you’re a beginner I would recommend a 10.5 foot model with soft-tip. A rod this size is easier to control.
I now use a 12 foot model, again with a soft tip – it enables me to cast further, keep the line above the waves and handle larger by-catch (Australian salmon, flathead) which you will get.
For spinning outfits, again 10.5 and 12 feet in length are the way to go.
For Alveys you must use monofilament line. Three kilogram breaking strain is enough to handle the whiting and I have landed a number of 65cm plus Aussie salmon and my PB flathead (97cm) on this weight line.
I love Platypus Lo-stretch for its feel, however for a beginner I’d just go for a good quality monofilament as the Lo-stretch can be pretty unforgiving if you get it tangled.
For spinning reels, if your reel is for all-rounder use then braid of similar breaking strain is probably best. If you are able to have a reel just for whiting, again I would recommend monofilament.
Hooks. Size four long-shanks. The size means you won’t pick up under-size fish and they are also big enough to catch other species. Mustad saltwater baitholder (92647NP-BN model) is my choice. The baitholder style really helps keep soft baits on the hook.
A good quality 4.5kg (10lb) breaking strain fluorocarbon.
I never go bigger than size 2, and if conditions allow I will go down to size 1 – the lighter the better.
Rolling swivels to suit line-breaking strength of 2-3kg. If you use an Alvey you MUST always use a swivel otherwise you’ll end up with a shocking twisted line which will end up in a bird-nest tangle.
I use two rigs. The first is straightforward and I would recommend it to start with. I also go back to it if there is weed around as there are less parts than rig two.
Gear: 35-40cm leader, two hooks, swivel, red or orange plastic tubing (you can get this at tackle or craft shops), size 2 ball or bean sinker
Tie a hook to the leader.
Slide a 4cm piece of plastic tubing onto the line and down to the hook.
Thread the second hook onto the leader so it sits on top of the tubing. This hook is not fixed; it can slide up and down the leader.
Tie the swivel on to the leader.
Thread the sinker on to the main line.
Tie the main line to the swivel.
This is the rig that fishing guide Alex Bellissimo designed, so I can’t take credit for it. If my instructions are unclear you can find a video of him explaining it on YouTube.
Gear: 160cm leader, two hooks, two swivels – one that has a snap attached, bomb style sinker size two.
Tie the swivel without the snap 40cm along the leader (this is the swivel you will attach to the main line).
Tie the swivel with the snap attached 40cm along the leader from the opposite end.
Tie first hook on one end of the line.
Tie second hook on the other end.
Your rig from top to bottom should now have – hook, top swivel 40cm down the line, bottom swivel with snap 80cm further down line and then second hook.
Attach the top swivel to main line and attach bomb sinker to the snap on the second swivel.
I’ve caught whiting on live pipis, nippers, bloodworms, but my favourite bait is live beach worms.
If your beach has them (and you can catch them!) then that is way to go. Catching beach worms is another art and I’m sure there are some “How to” posts on the Fishraider forums.
If you can’t get live worms then good quality frozen will work. If you can get some live worms and want to preserve them, the best way is to freeze them for an hour so they die humanely. Then put some metho into a plastic takeaway food container and add a few drops of red food colouring.
Drop the worms in for 30-60 seconds. The metho toughens the worms and helps them stay on the hook and food colouring gives them a colour that attracts the whiting. They will keep in the freezer for six months in this condition.
To use, thread the worm onto the hook headfirst and push around the bend of the hook and right up to the eye of the hook. Leave about 1cm of worm off the end of point, but ensure the point of the hook protrudes from the worm.
Learn how to read the beach – this is something that can only be done through experience.
Find the gutters (deep water) and target them.
A swell of one to three feet is the best conditions – I rarely fish when the surf is bigger than three feet.
I like to fish on a rising tide early in the morning (if you’re keen an hour before sunrise is best time to start. It also makes practical sense fishing Sydney beaches, as they are less crowded at this time.)
Cast your line into the water – try and time it so you are not casting into a breaking/broken waves. Give the reel a couple of quick turns so your line is tight (loose lines you won’t feel the bite). Slowly, slowly retrieve the line – you want the sinker on the sand, this is where the whiting feed.
If there is a current washing the line along the beach, it’s best to try and ‘walk’ down the shore with it – you want the line to be as perpendicular to the shore as possible.
When you feel a bite, don’t snatch the rod tip or start to reel in frantically. Slowly lift the rod tip, or slowly give the reel a couple of winds to set the hook. That’s all the pressure you need, a fast movement of either rod or reel will just pull the bait from the fish.
Once the fish is on, again, don’t panic! Let the rod do the work, keep the line taught and smoothly reel the fish into the shore.
I hope this helps some rookie fishers – a feed of whiting you have caught yourself is the best!