King George Whiting

27/02/12 - Author: Jamie Crawford

Although King George whiting are not classified as a sport fish as such, they are still are worthy target and are the highest-targeted recreational fish here in SA. Their popularity lies in their table quality, and most seafood-lovers agree that King George is indeed a superior table fish.

KG’s are fun scrappers on the right tackle, and can be pretty cagey at times. Once you’ve located a school of whiting the bite can be pretty hot, but most of the time KG’s will delicately suckle a bait rather than hitting it aggressively. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with King George. During winter when the fish are schooled up and holding over inshore berry-weed the fishing can be great and it’s easy to love the species.

At other times of the year, though, they can be pretty patchy and often require a bit more persistence and shifting around to locate the fish, and they can be frustrating at times. During the warmer months we often fish around scattered reef looking for King George; the fish aren’t as numerous but they are generally on the larger size.

King George whiting are found from southern WA, around the bottom half of the country (including the north coast of Tasmania) around to Sydney on the east coast. Smaller fish are prevalent around inshore seagrass meadows, until they have reached sexual maturity at around 3yrs of age. Once they have reached sexual maturity (above approx 34cm), the fish start to migrate into deeper water.

Down here in SA we have some pretty good offshore grounds for larger KG’s, as well as the inshore bays for school sized fish. Some classic ‘big whiting’ locations include the Sir Joseph Banks Group of islands wide of Tumby Bay, along the North Coast of Kangaroo Island and into Investigator Straight, and around some of our western Islands including Thistle, Flinders and Pearson.

It’s around these islands where the true kilo King George can be found, and these are the ultimate prize for serious whiting fisho’s. I’ve only seen a handful of true kilogram KG’s, and they’re an impressive lump of whiting. Although these large fish are great fun, they are our breeding stock and the vast majority of whiting fishing these days concentrates around the more accessible shallow inshore fishery.

By shallow we’re referring to water under 15m, with the majority of our whiting grounds in the 6 to 12m depth range. We will try to identify a bed of berry weed or scattered reef around tape weed, and drop anchor before spreading a little bit of berley. We don’t want to berley to much as this often draws unwanted species to the area.

Once we have spread a handful of ground berley including pellets and/or crushed cockle shells, then we’ll flick some baits down to the bottom. Like all whiting species, KG’s are primarily bottom feeders as their down-turned mouths indicate. Our preferred baits include cockles (pipi), squid and green prawn. If we’re targeting larger fish then we’ll use slithers of pilchard.

We don’t spend too much time fishing in an area if we’re not getting any action, so if we haven’t landed a whiting or had promising action for around 10 mins, then it’s time to up-anchor and make a shift.

As far as whiting tackle goes, a light 2 – 4kg rod with a 1000 or 2500 sized threadline reel is spot on. My personal whiting rod is a Shimano T-Curve Tournament 2 – 4kg, and with a bit of length at just over 7’ it’s light, sensitive and ideal for timid whiting bites. I have a Twin Power 2500 spooled with 10lb power pro braid, and in my opinion it’s the perfect KG whiting weapon! I have a second outfit in a 2 – 5kg T-Curve Revolution Inshore coupled with a 2500 Stradic. It too is a light-weight outfit, and suited to our larger KG’s.

As far as rig go, I use a standard two-dropper paternoster rig tied on 12lb fluorocarbon. I prefer using size 4 stainless long shank hooks, with a red bead coming to rest against the eye of the hook. Whether the bead makes much of a difference is contentious. I always try to use as little weight as possible, with ½oz my preferred size.

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