Big sand whiting are showing up in the Gold Coast Broadwater now that the water has warmed up.

How to catch sand whiting

Hi everyone, November on the Gold Coast is when some of our favourite fish start to fire up, and that includes sand or summer whiting.

These incredibly prolific fish are distributed along the east coast of Australia, from Cape York south to Tasmania. They spawn two to three times at river mouths and surf zones during September to April and are most abundant in southeast Queensland and northern NSW.


A nice haul of whiting for the table – no need to be too greedy.


It’s not commonly known, however that this species can completely burrow themselves into the sand to escape danger. They can grow to 30cm long by the time they are four years old.

Not many better eating fish are in the ocean and, for their size, they are impressively strong fighting fish. The bag limit is 30 per person in Queensland and size limit is 23cm minimum.

Thirty per person is far too many in my opinion – it should be 10, which is enough for one meal for a family of four. The size limit should be 27cm, as it is for NSW – a skinny little 23cm whiting is hardly worth keeping. There are a number of areas where summer whiting frequent on the Gold Coast.


The author with two 40cm whiting caught in the Gold Coast Broadwater in October.


Here are a few tips to help you catch a couple or 10.

The Nerang River

The shallow bank opposite the council chambers precinct at Bundall is a famous spot for catching big sand whiting that always seems to keep producing.

However, most shallow areas that are 1-2m deep tend to fish well at night, including Chevron Island, Surfers Paradise, Capri, Bundall and Benowa. Fishing is best on a run-out tide.

Anchor using bloodworms for bait on number 4 or 6 baitholder hooks, number 4 or 5 size running sinkers and long 6lb traces, which are needed to keep the bait on the bottom in the strong tidal flow that is typical in this spot.

If you haven’t caught any whiting within an hour, move 100m at a time until you locate a feeding school. As with any big sand whiting, do not strike too early or you’ll miss them. They will slyly crush then slowly eat the bait.

The author caught a giant trevally using the new Z-Man ST GrubZ plastic when kayak fishing.

Gold Coast Broadwater

Summer whiting here are found mostly on and around the huge yabby banks. The best areas are Crab Island, Wavebreak Island and Curlew Island.
On a run-in tide, use light line and yabbies as bait on small hooks over the top of the yabby banks. Only light or no sinkers are needed because the tide doesn’t run very hard.

Wading works very well, though if anchoring and fishing from the boat be sure to keep moving to find schools of whiting and avoid toadfish. Always keep bait moving slowly or you’ll hook stingrays.

On a run-out tide, fish along the edges and drains of yabby flats – as the tide recedes, the fish go with it. Most people will tell you that Gold Coast sand whiting are not easy to catch on lures, especially the bigger models of fish.

On my wading charters – which run from October to March – we catch 40cm and larger whiting nearly every day. The Gold Coast is whiting fishing heaven.

Best rods and reels if fishing from a boat include 2-4kg 7’ or longer bait rods, 2500 size reels, 6lb Platypus Platinum line and 6-8lb fluorocarbon leader.

For wading, I suggest a 1-3kg 7’ rod and 1000 size reel spooled with 3-4lb spinning fluorocarbon line. I prefer the Okuma Cerros or Atomic Arrowz rods with Okuma Ceymar.

Sporty’s Fishing shop at Bundall stocks all the gear you need.


Damo with a 78cm flathead that was caught on an Ecogear Balt soft plastic and released

The Tweed River

Unlike their Gold Coast relatives, northern NSW sand whiting are very aggressive lure takers in shallow water. Brad Smith – who guides there daily – has been catching them for many years on surface lures such as MMD Splash Prawns and Bassday Sugapens.

The trick is to fish shallow water no more than 60cm deep, do long casts with the wind, then a medium-speed retrieve while twitching the rod tip and not pausing. It’s a thrilling visual way to fish, and you’ll see whiting charging up to the lure to smash it.

Tweed River whiting can also be caught on beachworms and yabbies over summer by drifting or anchoring. The best areas are Chinderah, Tumbulgum and Condong.

Anywhere 1-3m deep can hold good-sized whiting in these spots.

The best rods and reels for surface lures include an Atomic Arrowz 7’ rod and Okuma Ceymar 2500 reel with 2-6lb line.

Besides whiting, this month still produces good catches of dusky flathead and giant trevally in our local rivers, the Gold Coast Broadwater and the Tweed River.


Terri was stoked to catch her first giant trevally on a Tweed River charter with Brad Smith.


To book on a charter with myself or Brad, or if you have any fishing related questions, visit goldcoastrivercharters.com, SMS 0432 990 302 or email fishingwithclint@gmail.com, or find us on Facebook – Brad Smith Fishing Charters.

About Clint Ansell

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