How to catch King George whiting
King George whiting are a popular target for many anglers, particularly those in search of a tasty meal. Whiting feed on small crustaceans, pipis, mussels and marine worms. They are commonly found in tidal areas, preferring sand holes in between reef and weed, with the lower tidal reaches of the Gippsland Lakes particularly productive.
A boat is a significant advantage when chasing whiting because one of the key elements of success is finding schools of fish, and in many cases, re-locating them as they move. Fishing through the strongest part of the tide is a good idea when chasing whiting. As they say “No run, no fun”. To increase success, anchor in a spot, deploy berley and baits, then fish for 20 minutes. If whiting are not caught in this time, move. Sometimes a move might only be 50 metres to an adjacent sand hole.
When fishing for whiting, some anglers prefer to use one rod and one bait, and hold the rod to detect subtle, rapid bites - the signature of a whiting. Whiting are adept at quickly stripping a soft bait without getting hooked, sometimes only seconds after the bait settles on the bottom. When trying to find a school, one strategy is to deploy many rods in different directions. Once the school is found, focus on casting to that area and if the bite becomes action-packed, revert to one hand held rod.
Whiting will respond well to a range of baits including pipis, bass yabbies, small cut strips of squid, mussels and sand worms. The addition of a small piece of pilchard to a squid bait can be the difference some days.
Whiting respond well to light tackle due to their timid and rapid bite. A light 7-ft fast action graphite rod should be matched with 2-4kg braided line. A 6ft leader of 12lb monofilament with a single hook, extended paternoster rig is perfect. A long shank hook sized #6 or a circle hook sized #2 are ideal, depending on whether you prefer to fish with the rod in your hand or in a holder (circles work well when rods are not held). A variety of different weight bomb sinkers will be required to suit prevailing conditions. A berley pot that can be lowered to the bottom with crushed up pilchards and berley pellets is worth the effort and will attract, and hold, schools of whiting.
If berley is working, catching whiting one after another is a lot of fun, particularly for youngsters or people new to fishing.
Shore-based fishing for whiting can be a great challenge, with whiting preferring tidal areas best accessed in boats. The Gippsland Lakes are home to many piers and jetties that offer excellent fishing opportunities, but the beaches with weed patches, or the ends of beaches adjoining rocks, are perhaps more attractive. Aim for a rising or high tide because whiting will cruise in to the shallows to forage.
Whiting can be caught at dawn and dusk in water as shallow as one metre. Fishing at night can be very productive too. Berley is less effective in this environment, so fishers need to rely on fresh baits to attract and hold a school. It’s a patience game, as moving spots is difficult.