Photo: Spero Kartanos.
BY SPERO KARTANOS
November is a good month for many reasons: Christmas is around the corner and the Melbourne Cup is on (my tip is The Chosen One) and the whiting are in good numbers in the bay.
So, when the weather is good there is no better excuse to go out and catch some nice Moreton Bay whiting fillets for the family, and by all accounts, most families enjoy the sweet tasting fillets. Eat them tempura style, grilled in a nice pasta linguini, or any way you like to cook these lovely fish. My favourite has to be light Japanese tempura batter and shoestring chips, all cooked in light olive oil with home-made chilli jam and aioli, but for the family to be happy you must learn to fillet so there are no bones left.
Whiting are really easy to catch and they tend to be in the same areas each year – in actual fact I think there’s more these days than in the olden days! Find them around the Sand Hills and on the western side of Moreton Island, Fisherman’s Gutter, and all the gutters throughout the Rous Channel area, Chain Banks, and all the surrounding sandbanks.
Also check out the Amity Banks shallows in Horseshoe Bay, and south to Pelican Bank, the northern side of the Brisbane River, Sandgate, Redcliffe, Bribie, and all the way to the ’pin.
In the summer months, I find the whiting are up in the shallow banks throughout the bay in 4 to 6 ft of depth, and a sign I always look for is feeding dugongs – nine times out of 10 the whiting follow the herds to eat whatever the dugongs dig up eating the sea grass.
I find them on the bite better when there is a good run in the tide, drifting with the good old faithful paternoster rig. Anchored up I do like the running sinker rig, especially in the fast-running currents down the ’pin and the rivers, but up in the bay paternoster is the way to go.
Bait is simple, and the best by far is live blood worms, but frozen beach worms, strips of squid, peeled prawns and pipis and live yabbies should all catch you a bucket of whiting.
As for rods and reels (especially for the young), I recommend ultralight rods, and the 1000 size reels are very good. Like most older fisherman, I remember hand line was all that was once used, which was a bit of a pain on a windy day if three or four people had hand lines going all over the place.
I always used long shank hooks, all brown in the stone age, and then the red long shanks were introduced, which made sense seeing we mostly used red blood worms or cured red beach worms. But I have to say I was put onto the black magic circle-type 1.0 whiting hooks and can’t believe how good they are, the only trouble is my little fat fingers sometimes find it hard to put the bait on, so every now and then I revert back to the red long shank.
November is hit and miss with some glassy conditions or howling winds, so wait for the good and safe days to go get a bucket of whiting, the kids love it!
One last thing on the whiting fishing: I know it’s easier to scale by dragging them in a net behind a boat but it really does soften the flesh; I think scaling by hand gives you firmer fillets.
’Til next month good fishing.