How to catch king george whiting

The king george (KG) or spotted whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus) is Australia’s biggest whiting species and a hugely popular fish.

KG whiting are found from the central New South Wales coast across the south to Jurien Bay in Western Australia, but are most common in South Australia and Victoria.

In recent times they have become more abundant in Tasmanian waters, where large fish are regularly caught.

KG whiting have different habits to the various species of sand whiting, usually living in deeper water and often showing a preference for broken or patchy bottom.

If you want to know more about sand whiting, visit this page.

Despite being relatively small, KG whiting fight well.

They whiting reach a maximum length of 72cm and 5kg, but are far more common around 30cm to 50cm.

Their table quality is legendary, and the flesh freezes well, but you will need a fine, sharp filleting knife to get the best out of them.

KG whiting fishing is heavily regulated, be sure to check bag and size limits before fishing.

Where to find king george whiting

KG whiting are commonly found in shallow coastal areas and estuaries, being most abundant around combinations of seagrass and sand, with bigger fish often associated with patches of rough ground.

They are found to 200m deep but are more usually found from 3m to 30m, and can sometimes be caught from shore where seagrass grows in close.

While young fish prefer shallow seagrass habitat, larger whiting are usually caught in deeper water, or remote areas where fishing pressure is less.

Australia’s biggest KG whiting tend to be found on South Australia’s west coast, with Tasmania’s northern waters also figuring promptly.

Such is the importance of the species, Victorian fisheries managers have assessed annual juvenile whiting numbers to predict future availability.

KG whiting can be caught all year, although seasonal availability changes.

In Victoria, Port Phillip and Western Port bays and Corner Inlet are prolific whiting spots, with the bigger fish usually caught in the seaward part of each bay.

South Australia’s two large gulfs are renowned for KG whiting, but are heavily fished.

To find the fish, locate seagrass beds and/or broken ground in 3m to 30m of water, drop baits, and if a fish is not soon forthcoming, move on.

The best time to fish is usually dawn and dusk and early evening.

The turn of the tide is often a time of strong feeding activity.

Larger tides often produce better fishing, but the tidal current can make fishing more difficult. That’s another good reason to fish hard on the turn.

Use the lightest sinker to keep baits on the bottom.

Best baits for king george whiting

Small baits of cockles (pipes) and squid are the most popular baits, but live worms and peeled prawns also work.

Some fishos tenderise the squid before putting it on the hook.

Squid resists bait pickers better than other baits.

In South Australia the shellfish called razor fish can be harvested from some low tide flats and is an excellent whiting bait.

Big whiting will take fish-flesh baits such as pilchards.

Bottom berley is often used when boat fishing, but it can work just as well to move until you find fish.

Berley can bring unwanted species such as leatherjackets and trumpeter.

Best tackle for king george whiting

Whiting tend to inhabit shallow, clear waters, which means light tackle should be used to fool them.

As whiting are a small fish usually found in open water, light tackle is fine for taking them.

A 3-6kg spinning outfit is suitable for general estuary and light boat fishing for KG whiting. See eBay listings for 3-6kg spinning combos and more here.

Star sinkers or snapper leads are generally used with a paternoster rig (hooks above the sinker) but a running sinker and long trace can be used when the fish are not biting strongly.

Ball sinkers are used with a running sinker rig, with the sinker sliding along the line, allowing a fish to run with a baited hook. See eBay listings for ball sinkers here, see listings for star sinkers here and for snapper leads here.

Hooks in mixed sizes are needed, depending on the size of the fish encountered. Suggest 4# to #8 for whiting. Size 8 long shank hooks are ideal, but smaller hooks can be used if the fish are small. See eBay listings here.

While a 3kg to 6kg rod/reel combo is ideal, snapper are caught on some whiting grounds, and fishermen who want to be prepared for that eventuality might use gear at the heavier end of the range.

Paternoster rigs with long leaders work well in seagrass areas as they hold the bait high.

Use the lightest sinker that will hold bottom.

Whiting often have a soft, sucky bite and it can take some practise to hook them, but when feeding hard, KG whiting will take baits aggressively.

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