These slender members of the cod family are welcome fish during challenging sessions in winter, though they rarely grow beyond a few pounds in weight. They are most commonly caught while targeting cod, and can be avoided by using large hooks which whiting shouldn’t be able to get hooked up with. Whiting will hit lures more aggressively than some other members of the cod family, and one look at them reveals that they are designed to hunt, as well as to scavenge. They generally feed on or near the bottom, but will move into the mid-water to chase bait fish, which is why they require that slender profile. This profile is designed more for speed than for sluggishly patrolling the seabed in search of worms.
Whiting Fishing Season
Whiting spawn in March and April offshore, and have a preference for cleaner ground when they venture inshore. They often arrive in the UK with first frost, as they like calm and cold conditions. Late October into the depths of winter are the best time to catch them. In the far North you can sometimes catch them all year round.
Where to Catch Whiting
The fish often have a pinkish sheen and are commonly caught in estuaries and from harbour walls in autumn and winter where they are caught with all kinds of baits and all kinds of lures, provides the lures are small enough to fish in their relatively small mouths. Whiting are a widespread species that can be caught from the North sea all the way down to the bottom of the South West of Spain.
Best Bait for Whiting
Lug worm tipped with squid is popular, but rag worm or an oily fish like mackerel, garfish or pilchard also works. They are not particularly fussy fish so don’t waste expensive baits on them The oils in those fish are quite pungent to fish and so get a lot of attention. The lugworm and squid I suppose appeals to the cod-like side of this slender predator.
Best Whiting Lures
Whiting love to take baited feathers, worms and squid baits. Baited feathers are effective because they trigger the predatory instinct to chase down prey while also providing scent which all members of the Cod family are very attuned to. This is the most common approach taken while fishing from boats. Sabiki feathers are more appropriately sized for the mouths of Whiting than size 1/0’s found in tackle shops, but the hooks may not always be as strong and it’s useful to have stronger hooks to be prepared for larger species that go for your feathers while boat fishing. Sabiki’s will probably be fine for most things you hook, but just make sure the hooks are decent on them to avoid losing a dream bass or cod!
If you are using lighter gear and aren’t using baited feathers, try a simple casting jig or spinner tipped with Marukyu Isome or Gulp. These are scented worm imitations that can help add scent to your lure for targeting species that don’t just rely on sight.
Given that Whiting are rarely caught above a couple of pounds in weight, they are an obvious species to target with ultra light kit. Even from a boat, so long as the water isn’t too deep (requiring a deep spool), a rod that casts no more than 10g is going to provide the best sport from this species, and is perfectly capable of handling these fish. Whiting have a tendency to take small, tentative bites (but lots of them) and so a rod this light allows you to detect their bites. The extreme softness in the tips of an LRF rod like this are going to prevent hooks being pulled away from their snapping mouths, giving the fish more of a chance to hook up properly. When fishing is slow on a winters night at your local estuary, giving the whiting a chance with ultra light gear is a great shout!