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The word “whiting” actually refers to three different species which are the Southern kingfish (the most common), the Gulf kingfish, and Northern king croaker. Whiting generally live in the surf zones and inlets of the coasts and average from less than a pound to around one pound in size. They are a flat bottomed, silver fish that have barbells to aid them in finding their food along sandy bottoms. Whiting are one of the more abundant fish along the coast where they live and are very popular among anglers not only for their numbers, but because of their highly rated flavor on the table. While they do not get very large, they are known to put up a fair fight at the end of a fishing line.
Whiting are mostly found in the surf zone along the coastal zones. They usually hang out just behind breaking waves, waiting for the waves to unveil crustaceans that they feed on. One of their favorite foods is the sand flea or mole crab, and if you see these in an area than there is a good chance that there might be some whiting nearby.
Any usual saltwater gear will be able to land even the biggest whiting, but because they like to hang out behind the waves a fair distance from the shore, a bigger rod might be useful to be able to cast far enough to catch them. If you are fishing from a dock or a pier, a spinning reel and medium action rod would be an excellent choice. Many fisherman often opt to use a slightly heavier setup than necessary to catch whiting on the off chance that they also catch something larger, such as black drum, redfish, and sharks. A solid braided line will work well, as it will withstand the waves, current and wind which are all present where these fish live. Whiting have fairly small mouths, making circle hooks a very popular choice when targeting these fish. Sizes ranging from #2-2/0 to #1-1/0 seem to be the most prevalent, as these smaller circle hooks allow for the smaller mouthed fish to hook themselves. Circle hooks are designed to hook fish in the corner of the mouth and to reduce gut hooking fish. Whiting feed primarily on crustaceans, where they cruise the surf zone looking for crabs, shrimp, and even small clams. While they have been known to eat baitfish, this is not the ordinary. The best bait is their favorite food the sand flea. Other popular baits include live shrimp, cut clams, oysters, and small crabs. Often time’s freshly peeled shrimp will perform better than live shrimp as whiting rely heavily on their sense of smell.
Whiting can be a great fish to get started fishing on, and tastes great after you catch and eat them. They can often be easy to catch, and you don’t need any special equipment to start reeling them in. If you live in an area where whiting are abundant, make good use of it and enjoy!