Surf Fishing for Whiting

Florida offers some of the most picturesque beaches any where in the country.  They range from very wide white sandy beach to steep beaches covered in shells, and almost all of them offer great surf fishing for whiting.  Whiting can be found in the surf around Florida all year long.  They are not only a scrappy fighter (when caught on light gear), but they are also a very popular fish to eat.

Gear

surf whitingWhiting very rarely get over 2 pounds in size so no special gear is required to fight them.  The only consideration for gear requirements is how far you will have to cast and how much weight is needed to hold bottom in the current.  The distance required and weight needed varies from beach to beach, and even varies daily based on surf conditions.

When long casts and heavy weights are NOT required, a spinning rod with 10lb test monofilament and a 6′ rod is ideal.  This set up will allow for a quick sporty fight and the sensitivity to detect even the smallest hits.

When long casts or heavy weights ARE required the gear must be scaled up.  Many surf fishermen us 10-12′ rods and 20lb test monofilament.  This set up will work for most conditions.

Bait

Whiting primarily feed on crustaceans in the surf.  The wave action will reveal or disorient small crustaceans in the sand and the whiting take advantage of this.  Here is a list of effective baits for whiting in the surf:

  • Live and Fresh Dead sand fleas
  • Live and Fresh Dead Shrimp
  • Fresh or Salted Clams
  • Small crabs

Rigs

Whiting are bottom or near bottom feeding fish.  They have sensitive barbels (whiskers) right bellow their mouth that help them located food in murky or churned up surf.  Because of this all whiting rigs should sit on the bottom, with enough weight to prevent the rig from being washed around too much by current and wave action.

The most successful rig is the “2 hook dropper rig”.  The 2 Hook Dropper Rig consists of a weight at the bottom with two hooks about 2 feet apart attached above. The hooks are attached to a drop loop, and above the hooks is a barrel swivel. 

Techniques 

Knowing that whiting hunt for crustaceans that are revealed or disoriented by waves will help you find whiting.  They are most frequently found prowling right behind the surf zone (the area that the waves are breaking).  A well placed cast just behind the surf zone, with enough weight to hold bottom will often result in a hit from a whiting.

On beaches that have more than one area that waves are breaking, the area between the breaks can be highly productive.  This area, called the slough, is often deeper than surrounding waters and becomes a highway of sorts for fish moving around the beach as well as those feeding!

Use 2 or more fishing poles, all cast different distances to find where the fish are most actively feeding.

Tips

  • Test multiple types of bait to find what the whiting are feeding on that day
  • Whiting can sometimes be right at the edge of the water, requiring only a 10 foot cast, test all distances to find the fish.
  • In Florida there are no size or bag limits on Whiting (as of  the writing of this post in May 2014) but, please only keep what you can eat.