King George whiting, or KG for short, are a royal delight for anglers in the southern half of the country, and are Australia's largest whiting species and a highly prized table fish. For light-tackle fishos they're a whole bunch of fun to catch as well, on both bait or a range of modern lure types. With all this in mind you can easily see why they're Mr Popular!
King George have two sides to their habits, with both an inshore and offshore existence.
Like many fish species KGs grow up in the protection of bays and inshore waters and then head offshore once they stack on some size. It's offshore that you're most likely to crack a PB fish over the 50cm size, while on the flip side the bays offer good numbers and easy access to smaller to midsized whiting.
Typical KG sessions for many fishos involve chasing these fish in shallow bays and coastal areas where you can move between sand holes or work a likely combination bottom type consisting of sand, weed and gritty/reefy bottom. KGs are edge feeders and like to snoop around for food on the fringe of weed beds, sand holes, channels and drains. Mostly in a bay setting you're fishing visible bottom in water under 10m deep, and even right up into the extreme shallows. Land-based anglers can also wade for these fish or reach suitable bottom by fishing structures such as breakwalls, jetties or rock ledges.
KG whiting are adept at living on offshore reefs and mud banks and their large black eye and aggressive feeding traits tells you that they have the tools to feed and prosper in deeper water and in a generally more competitive environment.
When it comes to consistently catching KG whiting across the range of areas they live in, results often hinge on the quality and variety of bait you carry.
Squid is the basis for successful sessions and is robust enough to last on hooks in a situation where there may be many mouths hammering your offering. Thin strips of tenderised fresh squid is about the ultimate offering for King George.
No matter what depth you're fishing also make the effort to pack some pipis as whiting of all sizes love them. While their soft nature can be exposed on the reefs when they're fished on their own, they can be used as a "cocktail" bait in conjunction with other firmer fleshed offerings if needed.
On the reefs King George also respond to flesh baits, with any oily and bloody fleshed species working well, with pilchards, silver trevally, slimy mackerel and other noted bait species more than useful when fresh.
Rigging wise the standard two hook Paternoster rig is preferred in all depths, with hook size and trace strength stepped up for deeper parts. Both circle hooks and long shank hooks are popular, with a size #4-6 'J' hook suitable for bay work, and loosely a size #4 to 2/0 for deep water whiting.
Despite the fact that KGs are a legitimate 'food fish' chased for their mild flavoured flesh, there's are highly aggressive side to these whiting which can be tapped into with the use of lures.
Starting in deeper parts, catching King George whiting on the reefs on lures is now more viable thanks to the slow and micro jig craze. Jigging for whiting can be undertaken in a range of depths, from offshore reefs through to bays, but is undoubtedly most effective when you have a bit of water underneath you as the fish can stack up tightly and be more competitive.
Depending on the depth fished jig selections can range from 5g up to 80g or so, but for the most part 20-40g is ideal. Inchiku jigs like the Shimano Bottomship, and smaller flutter jigs like the Coltsniper Wonderfall are a couple of reliable options.
King George in bays will readily eat a range of 2-4 inch soft plastics and small hard-bodies such as vibes, and the new Brenious fitted with a Squidgy Bio Tough Crawler will no doubt prove deadly - stay tuned!
King George whiting outfits for the bays mostly consist of bream-sized combos, with a 1000-2500 sized reel - like the Shimano Stradic FK or Ultegra FB for example - fitted to a responsive rod such as the Zodias 701 Ultra Light Spin or Raider 721 Bream Spin as two suggestions. This gear can be beefed up to a 3000-4000 sized reel and rod to match if you could encounter larger bycatch on the same grounds. Braid is a must to detect bites.
Typically when offshore you start with more robust tackle such as heavier outfit mentioned, and then go up from there if you have large snapper and others on the same grounds. Dedicated light micro jigging tackle is recommended when using jigs, with the Grappler and Game Type J series featuring a few perfect light jigging rods that can be fitted with a threadline or the new Ocea Jigger 1500HG overhead.
Fish as light as possible to detect the sometimes subtle bites of a mooching King George, and then enjoy their hard fighting antics when hooked, and the super tasty fillets at the end of the day!