Along the coasts of Florida lurks one of the most popular fish for shore bound anglers to catch. It is not the biggest fish in the ocean, but it is highly regarded for flavor as well as its year-round presence. The Whiting (also known as the Southern Kingfish, although rarely referred to as such) is a Florida shore fishing staple!
Whiting are found through out all of Florida, and while they can be found in just about any saltwater bay, canal or back waters they are most frequently found in or near the surf zones of Florida’s beaches.
Fishing for Whiting – Tackle
To catch whiting the tackle required is not very demanding. They very rarely reach a size of greater than tow pounds so just about any saltwater rated rod and reel will work just fine catching whiting.
While fishing the surf in search of whiting the only special considerations for gear requirements is to have a set up that is stout enough to cast a heavier weights that can get out past the breaking waves and hold the bottom once there. Often times there will be a current that is strong enough to drag the a lighter weight out of the areas known to hold the fish.
Whiting have fairly small mouths so an appropriate size hook should be selected. The hook can be as large as 2/0 but a #2 will be a little more successful. Circle hooks are a very good selection when fishing for whiting. A 1/0 circle hook will lead to higher catch numbers and lower mortality for released fish (See: When to use a Circle Hook). When using a circle hook do not “set the hook”, when a bite is detected simply raise the rod tip up and start to reel in.
If the decision is made to not use a circle hook any traditional J hook from size #2-2/0 would work with #1-1/0 being the best choices. Choose the hook based on the bait being used, a long shank works well threaded through a frozen shrimp, while a short shank is better for live bait (less visible metal). When a bite is detected using a traditional hook, allow the fish a brief moment to get the bait in its mouth then with a rapid upward movement “set the hook” and reel in the fish!
A 10-20lb fluorocarbon leader (reduces visibility) is more than sufficient when fishing for whiting. The only reason to not go smaller than 10-20lbs is there areas that whiting are caught often have larger fish in the area. Black Drum, Redfish, Pompano, Bluefish and Sharks are all quite common in the same areas that whiting are caught, and some of those fish can get quite large.
Fishing for Whiting – Bait
Whiting feed almost exclusively on crustaceans. They cruise the surf zone looking for crabs, shrimp and even small clams that have been disturbed by the breaking waves. While they have been known to eat bait-fish, it is not their primary source of nourishment.
The single best bait for Whiting is… CONTINUED ON PAGE 2