What are other common names for the small-mesh multispecies fishery? This fishery is most commonly referred to as the whiting fishery, which includes three species: Silver hake, red hake, and offshore hake. Silver hake is almost always referred to as whiting. Offshore hake, because they are similar in appearance to silver hake, and are not usually distinguished, are also referred to as whiting or black whiting. Red hake is most commonly referred to as ling, but can also be called squirrel or mud hake. What time of year does the whiting fishery take place? Although the whiting fishery is technically open year-round, because this fishery primarily operates through exemptions from the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, the timing of most targeted fishing is highly dependent upon the seasons of specific exemption areas. There are several seasonal exempted fisheries for small-mesh species in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, and more general, year-round exemptions in the Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic Regulated Mesh Areas for the whiting fishery. For more information on these exempted fishing areas, see the "Commercial>Areas" and "Commercial>Exempted Fisheries" tabs on this page. What is the geographic extent of the whiting fishery? This fishery occurs in both New England and Mid-Atlantic waters, and small-mesh gear is used in both northern and southern areas. Silver hake prefer water temperatures between 6 and 18 °C, and adult red hake prefer water temperatures between 5 and 12 °C. At what depths are small-mesh multispecies found? Water depth varies by species. Silver hake generally occur at depths less than 200 m, but can be found up to 900 m deep. Offshore hake are found primarily along the 200 m depth contour (the deepest extent of NEFSC survey coverage) during spring and autumn. Red hake can be more widely distributed and are found at depths ranging from 11 m to 500 m. What other species are caught when fishing for whiting? Typically other small mesh species such as herring and squid. Small amounts of other groundfish (NE Multispecies) may be caught as well. What gear types are authorized and what gear types are primarily used in this fishery? Specialized trawl gear referred to as raised footrope trawls are required when fishing for whiting. This fishery typically uses smaller mesh than standard multispecies vessels (hence the "small-mesh" multispecies fishery). Hakes are not typically targeting in recreational fisheries, but recreational gear can include rod and reel, handline, or spear.
SURF, PIERS: How is surf fishing in this area? How about record-setting? Jacksonville’s Larry Finch, who is one of Florida’s premier surf-casting anglers, caught a state-record sized whiting while fishing off of Flagler Beach. Finch landed a 2-pound, 3-ounce whiting on Oct. 8. After the lengthy certification process, Finch was recently recognized as the state record holder. Gene Lytwyn at The Fishin’ Hole in downtown Daytona Beach said while weather has been rough for fishing everywhere this week, surf fishing is still hot. “Surf fishing was still pretty good with catches of pompano, whiting and an occasional bluefish,” Lytwyn said. “Sand fleas, clams or shrimp fished on a pompano rig are the most effective.” As for area piers, those anglers have enjoyed a steady catch, too. “The ocean piers we're still having good success with sea trout, pompano and black drum,” Lytwyn said. “The trout were mostly caught on live shrimp fished under a popping cork or using a Gotcha plug.” Roy Mattson, Roy’s Bait and Seafood in New Smyrna Beach, chimed in on the surf report. “If you want to fish the beach, the water is clean, so there should not be a problem catching pompano, whiting, black drum, redfish, bluefish and sheepshead,” he said. And there’s this from Jeremy Farlow at Salty Dawg Outfitters. “In the surf you can still look to find pompano running the beaches in good numbers, a few whiting and bigger bluefish showing up,” he said. “Sand fleas and shrimp will work great for the pompano and whiting. Cut mullet or Gotcha lures will work for the bluefish.”
Any sand whiting over 40 cm long is a great fish. There are many ways to fish the flats, but one of the most exciting methods, using bait, is to sight cast the fish as you walk the flats. My good mate Ross McCubbin has made an art form of sight casting whiting using yabbies for bait. Using a long, light rod with ultra-fine 2 pound braid and 3 pound fluorocarbon leader he catches consistent catches of big solid sand whiting. Tide is important. As the push of a run in tide begins, the whiting start to move up onto the flats. By getting down wind, and using a good pair of Polaroid sunglasses, it is usually pretty easy to spot the schools of fish moving up on the flats. These fish are keen and feeding. The rig consists of a small number 6 Aberdeen or similar hook and no lead is used. An unweighted yabby on an ultra-light outfit can be cast a reasonable distance. The key to this method is being able to spot schools of whiting, and work out where the bigger fish are. This is not easy, and a good pair of Polaroid glasses is a big help. Whiting often show themselves as a series of flashes as the fish turn and move. Once whiting are spotted, cast the yabby in front of the feeding fish. In general they will rush the bait. This method is best done by wading and is incredibly productive most days. It tends to work better with a slight to moderate breeze and a bit of cloud cover. The key water depth is between about 20 and 60cm of depth. Worms and small soldier crabs can also be used but are far inferior to yabbies. It's important to give the fish plenty of time to take the bait. This method also produces quite a few big flathead that either eat the yabby or swallow a whiting once it's hooked. Catching an 80cm plus flathead on 2lb braid and 3lb leader is a real challenge!
BibliographyHow to catch whiting . (1970). Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from http://www.fishingworld.com.au/how-to/how-to-catch-whiting.
Whiting, Other Hakes :: Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. (1970). Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/whiting/index.html.
Godwin Kelly. (1970). Fishing report: Famed angler Larry Finch catches record whiting in .... Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from https://www.news-journalonline.com/sports/20181212/fishing-report-famed-angler-larry-finch-catches-record-whiting-in-flagler.