How to catch King George whiting
In Port Phillip, whiting feed on small crustaceans, pipis, mussels and marine worms. They inhabit similar territory to calamari, preferring the sand holes in between reef and weed. A boat is an advantage when chasing whiting because it is important to find schools. That means moving spots often until you encounter one. 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. A recipe for whiting success is to 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. More whiting will often be caught by fishing with one rod and one bait because holding the rod enables the detection of subtle, rapid bites, which are the signature of a whiting. Fishing multiple rods can work, especially with circle hooks that are more likely to see the fish hook itself. Whiting respond well to a range of baits including pipis, bass yabbies, small cut strips of fresh squid, mussels and sand worms. All should fished on light tackle to assist in the detection of bites. 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.
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 shanked #6 hook or a #2 circle hook are ideal, the latter better suited to leaving the rod in the holder and letting the whiting hook itself. A variety of bomb sinkers in different weights should be carried. Use only enough weight to hold the bottom. A berley pot full of crushed up pilchards and pellets is considered essential by many.
The nature of whiting makes shore-based fishing harder than in a boat, but it’s certainly possible and a great challenge. Piers and jetties provide safe and stable platforms however beaches with offshore weed patches or reef are terrific too, and often less crowded with fishers. Whiting can be caught at dusk and dawn in water as shallow as one metre. Berley won’t be effective in this environment, so fishers need to rely on fresh baits to attract and hold a school. Shore based whiting in Port Phillip is a patience game as moving spots is harder.
Shore based and boat-based tackle is remarkably similar, however lighter sinkers can be used from the shore.