As everybody knows, there is no real art form involved when it comes to catching Whiting. I have a few tips to offer for those who have problems catching these fish in large numbers or for those who want to take their fishing to another level. This is the time of year when these little hard fighting devils show up off the local beaches in BIG numbers. Catching 50 or more fish is not uncommon from March on through May. The action has already kicked off wide open on the Georgia Coast.
“The Ridges” One key factor in finding consistent Whiting action is ridges. They can be found off any coastal area within reach of this magazine. I prefer a ridge to run at around 20 feet sloping quickly up to 15 feet or so, and then leveling off. Anchor your boat just on the edge of the slope. If that doesn’t produce, fish that 15 feet of water just off the top off the slope.
If that fails, the fish have to be deep, so hit the bottom end of the slope in 20 feet. Those fish will be feeding somewhere on that ridge running up from the deeper water. If your bite shuts down on the tide change, you may need to reposition your boat on another area with similar characteristics. However, more times than not, those fish will bite in the area you are set up in when the current begins to move again. In other words, stay put if you were catching fish before the tide change. Give it at least 30 minutes before you relocate to another ridge. Those are proven keys to consistency, just as there is with any type of fishing.
There is always a step to take you to another level. With that in mind, you may want to invest in a decent bottom machine if you have been doing without. You can purchase a decent unit for around $100. If you are seeking a new Whiting Hole, run your boat out of the sound and search for sandbars that skirt deep channels or run off the beach toward deep water. One of the finest Whiting Holes in Georgia is no secret. About ½ mile off the beach in front of the King and Prince Hotel is more than prime this time of year. It’s pretty easy to find on a weekend. Just look for a hundred boats piled up together and head on over and find yourself a ridge to anchor on.
“Squid on the Hook!” It seems to me, after more than 20 years of Whiting fishing, these fish prefer one type of bait from another. Now, we all know how good a peeled fresh shrimp can be, but I have found some serious consistency using locally caught Squid. The Squid is normally very fresh and it stays on the hook well even after several fish have been caught on a single ½ inch strip. Another key factor with using Squid over Shrimp is smell. Ever smelled your hands after baiting up a squid? Wheeww! It smells stronger than shrimp and a bit different as well. This year has been especially productive using Squid for Bait.
“The Rig” A Penn 300SSM Spinning Reel loaded down with 20-pound braided line and an Ugly Stik 12-17 Medium/Light Inshore Rod is the ultimate combo. Rig your egg weight to free slide above a small 20 pound swivel and tie 2 ft. of monofilament line and a #2 hook below that swivel. I prefer a “Kahle” style hook for an easier hook set in those little mouths on the bottom side of the Whiting’s head. If you use the bronze hooks, they will rust out after a single use. The silver stainless hooks bend a little easier, but hey, we are only talking about a Whiting here. The hook will make it more than one fishing trip, too. Remember your size and catch limits and take your children fishing whenever you can. As we all know, they are the future of our fishery. Good Fishing!