Want to Catch Whiting on Poppers and Stickbaits This Summer???


Want to Catch Whiting on Poppers and Stickbaits This Summer???

One of my favourite pastimes in summer is hitting the local sand flats in search of whiting. Over the last few years I’ve been targeting them exclusively on surface lures. Having 5, 6 or seven lit-up whiting chasing down a tiny stickbait is just great fun. Here are our top tips for getting into whiting on surface lures this summer.


Whiting can be found on a variety of shallow sandy flats around coastal estuary systems, lakes and lagoons. The usual haunt for whiting are the shallow and clear tidal flats before estuaries spill into the sea. Locations such as Narabeen Lake, Lake Illawarra, Minamurra and Sussex Inlet are prime examples. However, whiting can also be found in many of the sheltered bays around Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay. These bays don’t have the tidal currents that many anglers usually associate with whiting fishing. The reason whiting are found here are the worms, nippers and prawns that whiting eat live on these sheltered sand flats.

When arriving at a flat it’s a good idea to check for whiting attracting features rather than just blindly casting. Features that will help you locate the whiting include:

  1. Undulating sandy bottom. These areas can be easily scouted out at low tide and may only be 10 or 20cm deeper than the surrounding area. At high tide they form slightly deeper pools and channels on the flats helping the whiting move closer to their food. Try and work the perimeter of these areas before putting a few casts right through the middle.
  2. Patches of weed. Often flats will have small patches of ribbon weed. These make excellent hiding places for prawns and small baitfish. Whiting hang around within several meters waiting for an easy meal to make a break from the cover.
  3. Sandy areas backed by mangroves. Mangrove roots are a great hiding place for baitfish and prawns. Try around the perimeter of the mangroves as well as up any channels that lead into the mangroves.



Fishing for whiting with surface lures really takes off over the warmer months. Generally October through to March prove to be the best months to hit the flats. In terms of tides, whiting will usually spend the low tide milling around in deeper water. As the tide begins to rise and they can access their feeding grounds. They will push up on the flats as soon as the water is deep enough to cover their backs. This early part of the rising tide is usually when whiting will aggressively chase down a surface lure.

The bite does go quiet at the top of the tide before a slightly less enthusiastic bite as the tide falls. On the falling tide bream and flathead will be very active on the flats taking advantage of the prawns and baitfish finding new shelter in deeper water.

Surface Lures

Stickbaits and poppers are the weapons of choice here. I prefer lures that look as natural as possible mimicking the look of a prawn or small baitfish. My tackle box is mostly filled with clear lures with a tinge of yellow or green to them. Some red on the lure also seems to entice a reaction from the whiting.

Poppers – When the water is a bit choppy whiting seem to respond slightly better to poppers. Look for a length of 45 to 50mm with a bit of weight for long stealthy casts. Ones that look like they will push a fine spray ahead of the lure are what you are looking for.

Stickbaits – When the water is fairly still a good stickbait will create a nice V-shape as it swims across the water surface. Again look for a lure 45 to 70mm in length that looks a bit like a prawn or baitfish.

Try to take half a dozen profiles and colours each time you go out. Although whiting can be very aggressive feeders they can also be incredibly picky at times.


Long casts with small lightweight lures are the key to catching whiting. Small threadline reels matched to a lightweight rod that can punch a small lure out in a bit of a breeze are all that is required. Braided line is also handy to reduce any wind drag when casting and retrieving. A short but relatively heavy fluorocarbon leader of around 12lbs will stop the leader getting wrapped around the trebles each cast. The heavy leader tied directly to the lure with a uni knot will also help the lure track straight through the water. A straight tracking lure improves the hook-up rate considerably.

You will catch quite a lot of undersized fish so to aid in a quick release it is a good idea to have a small landing net and some needle nosed pliers readily available. Whiting seem to get three points of the treble stuck in their tiny mouths so microsurgery is often required to unhook them.


The basic technique is a long cast and a steady retrieve. With poppers try and keep it moving with a constant splashing retrieve all the way back to the rod tip. Stickbaits need to generate a nice V shaped wake with an occasional flick like a fleeing prawn.

Final Tips
  • Look for sand flats with a bit of structure.
  • A light outfit is all that is required. They are only whiting afterall.
  • Keep your lure moving.
  • Get out there and give this exciting way of fishing a go.

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  • JOHN / 7 February 2020 11:04



  • Ocean Addiction / 8 February 2020 4:46

    Thanks for the read mate, it certainly is addictive.

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

John Buchan