How to catch King George whiting

Boat fishing

King George whiting are a popular target for many Australian anglers, particularly those in search of a tasty meal. Whiting feed on small crustaceans, pippis, mussels, and marine worms. These fish are commonly found in tidal areas, preferring the sand holes in between reef and weed, with the lower tidal reaches of the Gippsland Lakes being a particularly productive spot.

A boat is a significant advantage when chasing whiting. This is because one of the key elements of success is finding schools of fish, and in many cases, re-locating them as they frequently move. Unless held in a consistent berley trail, fishing through the strongest part of the tide is often a sound idea when chasing whiting. “No run, no fun” is the saying. To increase chances of success, anchor in a spot, deploy berley and baits, then fish for 20 minutes. If whiting are not caught in this time, then move. Sometimes a move might only be 50 metres to an adjacent sand hole.

While fishing for whiting, it is best to use one rod and one bait and hold the rod to detect subtle, rapid bites - the signature of a whiting. They are very adept at quickly stripping a soft bait without getting hooked, so using multiple rods in rod holders isn't as effective.

Whiting will respond well to a range of baits, including pipis, bass yabbies, small cut strips of squid, mussels, and sand worms.

Boat-based tackle

Whiting responds 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. A variety of different weight bomb sinkers will be required to match the prevailing conditions. A berley pot that you can lower to the bottom with crushed up pilchards and pellets should work well.

If your berley is working, you will be able to catch one whiting after another which is a lot of fun, particularly for youngsters or those new to fishing.

Shore-based fishing

Shore-based fishing for whiting presents a great challenge, with whiting preferring the tidal areas and are usually caught in boats. The Gippsland Lakes are home to many piers and jetties that offer excellent fishing opportunities, but the beaches with offshore weed patches or the ends of beaches adjoining rocks are perhaps even more attractive.

Whiting can be caught at dawn and dusk in water as shallow as one meter. Berley won’t be effective in this environment, so fishers need to rely on fresh baits to attract and hold a school. It is a patience game, as moving spots is difficult.

Click here for bag limits on King George Whiting.