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The Yellow Fin Whiting season is fast approaching. As the seasons and weather conditions change we have to think about and adapt to the changing behaviours of the Yellow Fin Whiting.

The most important thing for successful YFW lure fishing is knowing the fish!

It’s physiology. It’s habitats and ecosystems. Also it’s behaviour in all weather conditions and seasons.

The next most important thing for successful YFW lure fishing is knowing your spots. The geography and terrain.

There is always a right spot, for every weather and tide conditions. When do the fish go to a given spot? In what weather? On which tide? And what food is available there in these conditions?

The least important thing for successful YFW lure fishing is … lures !!!

Find the fish first. Before worrying about finding the right lure and technique.


Your chances of success will depend on assessing the weather and tide conditions on a given day and then understanding the behaviour of YFW in those conditions. YFW will be found in different locations, in different weather and tide conditions.

There is nearly always a good fishing spot available. Almost regardless of the weather conditions.

We are lucky to have the two gulfs and the Yorke Peninsula. It provides us with a variety of options regardless of the weather and which way the wind blows.

These are some weather and location factors that I consider, before I go lure fishing for YFW



Early in the season air and water temperatures are critical for lure fishing. With the rising temperature their metabolism, muscle functions and locomotion increases.

At the start of Spring, I usually pick a day at the end of a series of warmer days. The water would have warmed up a little by then. It takes a while for the water temperatures to change due to thermal lag. And even then I prefer fishing the warmer afternoon on these sunnier warmer days. A smaller tide on these days is a bonus. Less water to warm up in the shallows. Bigger tides can bring in cooler deeper water into the warm shallows. However this dynamic is ever changing and does go into reverse in the hottest months. Stay alert to the different water temperatures at different water depths at different times of the year.

By November, water temperatures are now consistently over 20c. Low water temperatures and a low metabolism in the YFW is, no longer a factor. A chilly morning in summer may just dull the fish’s appetite. But by mid day as they gather in the deeper areas after the morning run off they will be back to their aggressive best.

Yes the water temperature can get too hot after a hot spell. Then the obvious thing is to fish the cooler mornings.

Also pick deeper water locations during hot weather spells. Where the fish can find some relief from the hotter surface water temperatures of the shallows. If fishing the afternoon incoming tide, you will need to fish back deeper in the tide. Where the water is cooler on those very hot days.


…… Early in the season blades work better, as fish stay deeper and are less likely to rise for a surface lure.



Given that water temperatures are good, wind is the next most important factor for stimulating YFW surface feeding.

The perfect wind for lure fishing YFW on an open sand flat, is in the 6 to 12 knots range. Perfect to stimulate YFW feeding as they feel a lot safer under the cover of a heavy ripple or light chop on the surface of the water. The chop sufficiently obscures their vision, so they are not too discerning with lures in these conditions. Although too windy and too choppy, will stir up the sand and dirty the water. Fish will move to more protected and cleaner water.

Strong winds are okay. In fact can be brilliant for concentrating fish in certain spots.Your spot selection in these conditions becomes critical. The geography of the Yorke Peninsula and gulfs gives us a myriad of options regardless of which direction the wind is blowing. With the gulfs and peninsula, you will always have a section of coast with an offshore wind.

In strong winds, a lot more fish are gathered on the leeward coast, as they move away from the open rougher waters.

Less floating weed and accumulated weed wracks on the leeward side is also a bonus. So strong winds are great for concentrating fish in certain areas.

….  A video of the ideal wind when lure fishing YFW



….  Both fish and their predators can be found sheltering from the wind in mangrove areas.



The varied marine habitats and terrain also provides a few options for windy days. There are habitats that provide sheltered areas regardless of onshore strong winds. A spot behind a mangrove forrest wall will have less chop and cleaner water. This area attracts and holds a lot more fish as they shelter from the rougher conditions outside. Often these strong on shore winds will produce a bigger tide, due to a storm surge. The fish take advantage of this as it provides access to fresh feeding areas around samphire beds behind the mangrove wall.


Flooded in shore lagoons on a high tide are calmer and protected from the heavy churning chop. They will hold more fish in windier conditions. There are plenty of sandy bays and coves on the Peninsula that exist because they are sheltered, always in the leeward side of the prevailing strong winds. The water here is always cleaner and clearer, with fish more abundant in this location during windy conditions. Persistent strong winds are good. Don’t curse them, use them to your advantage.

You may need to travel to the other side of a gulf to do this. Or even a trip down to the beautiful calm and sheltered waters of Hardwicke Bay, Point Souttar and Corny Point.


  An area sheltered by mangrove walls, that will hold more fish in stronger onshore winds.



…. These fish were taken at the entrance of some mangrove areas


Windy days on the open sand flats, will find fish sheltering in the deeper channels that will offer protection from the wind chop in the shallows. You will also find the leeward protected side of weed banks will hold more fish. Conversely should the winds be very light the windward side of a weed bank will have more food stirred up and hold more fish. What ever the wind does, there is a suitable spot to be.

A windy day bonus - long casts downwind, always catch more fish. I avoid fishing on calm days if I can help it.


… Channels and weed banks provide some shelter



Any water movement provides a feeding stimulus for YFW. The tides are the most common cause of movement and will always influence fish behaviour.

However even on a dead dodge tide, SW wind surges, afternoon seabreezes, or changes in atmospheric pressure can create enough stimulating water movement, regardless of the poor tide predictions. A small stimulus on an otherwise listless day often produces a disproportionate stimulatory reaction from the fish.

Given that the main opening to the Gulfs face SW most tides will be boosted by a SW wind. Low atmospheric pressure will also draw in a larger tide. Factor these in to the published tide predictions, as there always is always a great deal of variation in tide heights on the sandflats.


  An old tide book explaining the factors that can effect tide height.


The small dodge tides can be taken advantage of. The small tide holds and concentrate fish in larger numbers in a smaller area, rather than a big tide dispersing them over a large area. At times fishing these conditions can be more like “shooting fish in a barrel”.

Big tides provide fish accessibility to new feeding habitats. Big YFW love the small Haswell crabs that live in the Samphire beds, behind the mangrove forests. This food becomes accessible to the YFW during the big tides that cover the Samphire beds. The YFW are a much easier target when they make their way in and out of the samphire beds, in a dropping big tide.

Wether it be a Dodge tide or a big Spring tide, or light winds or strong winds, you will always be presented with a few different fishing opportunities, with the different conditions.


…. Some of the largest YFW are taken on the biggest tides when they were chasing Haswell crabs in the Samphire beds


…. Crabs in the gut contents of YFW


Some locations with deeper major channels, that drain the sandflats have increased water flows. The localised currents, can stimulate fish feeding. It is a good location in a dodge tide when these channels can amplify water little water movement there is in the tide.

These channels will usually bring in water of a temperature that offsets the existing shallow water temperatures. The deeper water also provides a refuge in either temperature extreme. In ambient temperature conditions they are also the tidal highways for fish.


There are also major ocean currents that come into play. In winter the major Leeuwin current flows across from WA and effects the lower Spencers Gulf water temperatures. Boston Bay in Pt. Lincoln is well known for winter YFW.

I have caught bags of YFW in the middle of winter on southern Yorkes when the locals tell me you won’t see them till October.

A Northerly wind with a following Westerly change will flick in the warm water flows of the Leeuwin current and bring with it schools of YFW.  Maintain a fishing log. They are a great reference.


…. The Leeuwin current brings warm water temperatures to the southern Spencers Gulf in winter



On sunny days you catch more fish! It probably is the extra warmth and the better visibility of the lures. But it does not matter if you don’t catch fish theses beautiful days !


… It is always good fishing in the sunshine


So you either you pick the best weather days for your regular spot, or you pick a new spot to suit the weather and tides on the day.

One way or another you should be able to catch a good feed of YFW on lures. Regardless of the weather.


Tight Lines,

Cheers, Des

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excellent write up. Enjoy your posts.


Was thinking of hitting up thomsons on high tide. Any success high tide?


I remember one day it was low tide and walked straight out into thigh deep water and hooked onto a whiting. Then the last thing that hooked on snapped my line.


the walk out it tedious. I might buy those welcher things.


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5 hours ago, Bilbobaggins said:

excellent write up. Enjoy your posts.


Was thinking of hitting up thomsons on high tide. Any success high tide?


I remember one day it was low tide and walked straight out into thigh deep water and hooked onto a whiting. Then the last thing that hooked on snapped my line.


the walk out it tedious. I might buy those welcher things.


Yes the big evening tides bring in the deeper warmer water and few whiting. Alternatively pick the warmest day and fish the low tide in the arvo.

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