- Sillago ciliata
Sand or Yellowfin Whiting are one of the most popular catches along the East Coast of Australia. They are readily caught from the shore and beaches in shallow water. They are most readily caught in the warmer months. They are excellent eating, with white delicately flavoured fish. Tossing the fillets in flour and lightly frying in butter is a simple way to enjoy them.
There are a few simple facts to remember when targeting Sand Whiting - they are forage feeders, they have small mouths, and they like current. In particular, they will hold station in current foraging and waiting for whatever may pass them by or is dislodged by the flow. They are generally found over sand flats in estuaries and in the surf zone of sandy beaches. They are extremely wary in clear water and it is necessary to use the lowest visibility leaders available, in lengths of two metres or more.
The proven baits for Sand Whiting are their normal live food. Blood or sand worms and pink nippers (yabbies) are gun baits, but peeled prawns will also get some attention. Another very good bait for the larger fish are live soldier crabs fished in the same manner as yabbies. While these must be weighted sufficiently to get to the bottom, the sinker should only be as light as necessary. A bean or bug sinker, to reduce line twist in the current or surf, running all the way to the hook is a standard rig. Small, long shank hooks are favoured, as is the colour red. Some anglers use one or more red beads or a short length of red tubing immediately above the hook.
Lures are also taking good numbers of Sand Whiting. Small diving minnows, like the SX40, Mirashad, and Baby Vibe have accounted for many of these fish. These can be cast upcurrent and retrieved slowly or trolled at sufficient pace just to get the lure working, with plenty of pauses. Again a long and very light low vis leader is required in clear water.
Soft Plastics are also taking their share of whiting. 2" curl tail grubs, weighted as lightly as possible and in colours like bloodworm are recommended. However, many fish are being taken on Berkley Gulp 6" sandworms. The technique is to cut the worm in two, rig on a #2 hook or smaller or on a very light jig with a number two hook, cast out, and just drift with the current. Different colours seem to work in different conditions - dark colours for dark water. The fish will hook themselves on this rig, but many hits won't result in a hookup. A stinger hook may improve hookup rates.
Flathead and bream are common and welcome bycatch when fishing for whiting in these ways.
Whiting on poppers - an example of the sort of retrieve speed you're likely to need.
A fish with a subtle taste, and a nice white flesh. Many people recommend just removing the internals, and head, coating in flour, and cooking in butter in a frypan, or on the BBQ.