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Topwater Whiting

Mike Sydney

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After posting of my first fish on a lure a few weeks ago, I’d been in contact with @DerekD who had given me some helpful advice on how to fish lures more effectively. Ahead of a weekend’s fishing I’d been assigned some homework – grab a 70mm Sugapen and prepare to catch some topwater whiting. 

I was very excited, having never caught a whiting or a fish on a topwater lure before. I bought two of them at my local tackle shop and headed out at lunchtime to a nearby bay to sneak in some practice.

It didn’t take long and I soon landed my first whiting with a ‘walk the dog’ retrieve across the top. Not a huge whiting, but a whiting nonetheless and in quick time. And on a lure again, hot dog!

I came back that evening and was just getting ready to cast when I heard a splash a few meters to my left. I cast blindly towards it without thinking and knew immediately I had made a mistake -the Sugapen was halfway up a tree hanging over the water’s edge, perhaps 10 foot off the ground.

I spent the last of the dying sunlight to try and get it back, figuring I’d at least figured out which branch it was on. The first 30 minutes of darkness I spent up the tree, below the tree, in the tree, shaking the tree, breaking the tree. At one point I’d taken my belt off to drag the branch down a few foot. I must’ve looked like a right moron – or high - to the dozen or so spectators but I didn’t care, I was getting my lure back.

Except of course I didn’t. I’ve been back a few times during the day and still can’t find it. I asked the council guys if they could cut some branches for me, but they just looked at me strangely and said they only do the bins. 
 I’ve stared up into that foliage for so long I’m seeing it in my dreams. I almost reckon I should stop fishing that bay before I go even crazier.

But anyway, later that weekend I spent a day with Derek who promptly dumped all over my technique and gear and then began ‘showing me the way’ – walking through casting, casting, and how to cast, and then moving on to rods, reels, leaders, lures. How to find fish, how to land fish. Different retrieves. It was an absolute *game changer* – my casting distance improved out of sight and i began realising how things had gone so wrong for me fishing lures all winter without success.

I learned how to keep the slack out of my line, which I hadn’t been. how to actually let the lure hit the bottom, which i definitely hadn’t been, and that a retrieve isn’t simply pulling back in a straight line. I’m sure a lot of it was basic stuff, but for a beginner like me it was pure gold and not something that I really found out there on the net.

Energised, I went back to Sugapen Tree and landed seven whiting on the other suga in an hour session. My previous best entire day had been three, so this was really something. One of them thrashed a bit as I was taking the lure out and I got a bloodied finger from a treble - ouchie, but didn’t take the gloss off the catch. 
As a bonus to top off the week I landed two small flathead - another first - and a nice bream on a vibe too. 

There was time for one final lesson. As we’d been fishing a bank, Derek had warned me about making sure the rock I was standing on was properly stable. I brushed off the advice at the time – I mean I appreciate the fishing advice mate but I think I know how to stand up - but this morning the rock was not stable, and nor were my thongs. Down I went into the mud and oyster rocks, cutting my hand, ripping a hole in my jeans but somehow not hooking myself with a treble again or banging my head on a rock. It was a nasty fall and I should’ve copped it worse. Lesson learned and a bit of humility  – footwear and footing are important after all, even if I’m not out on the rocks proper. 

Anyways it was a fantastically productive week with ten more fish on lures and a couple more species. Thanks @DerekDand the FR community for all the guidance and I’ll see you out there.

Cheers, Mike





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Yes I’ve seen a few videos mentioning that. Some suggesting getting rid of the front ones too and having only the assists. I can definitely see the reasoning as the whiting always attacked from behind and frequently missed their first strikes at the lure.

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2 hours ago, Lungfai76 said:

Little advice, ditch the trebles and attach on assist hooks for the sugapen. Will make life a whole lot easier and safer for both you and the fish. 

Hi Lungfai.

We are using the 70mm Sugapens and the belly treble and rear assist hook combo is a pain as the assist hooks catch up on the trebles often enough to cut into fishing time. On the 90mm sugapens the separation distance between the two hook points is sufficient that this is not a problem. There are also sufficient commercially made lures such as the Jackson Ebi panic prawn or the Ecogear PX55F shrimp with treble and assist hooks arrangement that it is easier to buy one of them than start mucking around with the smaller sugapens.

The other reason I have for leaving them as is is because some of the sandflats we are/will be fishing get visited by salmon and kings and the trebles are a bit better for hook ups - I do keep some long nosed pliers handy for careful dehooking.

The trebles on a lot of my lures get changed out for singles but I have some exceptions - these sugapens being one of them.



Edited by DerekD
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Excellent report Mike. Looking forward to seeing more of them as the season progresses.

"But anyway, later that weekend I spent a day with Derek who promptly dumped all over my technique and gear..."

That sounds so harsh. Can we just call it "tough love" or "constructive criticism"? 😁

Edited by DerekD
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Hi Kent!

I don’t want to share the exact location I was but this was sand flats in the harbour. 

i also got one yesterday at George’s River (picnic point) so it seems anywhere with a sandy bottom and shallows. 

These were all in super close to shore and a lot shallower than I’d have thought. As in, only ankle or shin deep. 

I’d have a crack at Rose Bay sand flats.  While it wasn’t where I caught this lot I do plan on having a crack at Rose with this lure over next couple weeks. 

Double Bay also has a similar sandy setup and I reckon there’s whiting to be had chucking out from the ferry wharf. 

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