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King George Whiting, next to Snapper and Flathead, has got to be one of the most sought-after saltwater fish in Southern Australia.
They put up a bit of a fight, can be quite common and have great textured flesh for the table.
A paternoster rig is probably one of the best rigs for targetting Whiting. These can be augmented with glow beads, coloured skirting and ultra-violet material. Whiting will take a variety of fleshy baits and soft plastic lures.
Whiting can be a bit timid.
Increasingly I find busy summer piers have too many swimmers and jet skis to be conducive to whiting fishing.
Some of the quieter beaches or even a small boat like a tinny or a kayak can be more productive.
That’s not to say it’s not possible to pier fish for King George Whiting. Because it absolutely is.
First light and in some places after dusk. The times of the day when it’s generally a lot quieter, other than our fellow fisho’s.
Catching whiting requires a different set of skills to that of a fisho targetting a species like a flathead. Not that you can’t catch both – more that you shouldn’t try to catch both using the same techniques.
As a timid schooling fish, you’ll need a more subtle approach.
This is reflected in our choice of rigs, bait presentation and fishing spot target.
Many fisho’s catch this species from the shore every year. However, I’ve found more success from a boat. Your mileage may vary.
In terms of table quality – the flesh is delicate and tasty. In short – superb!
King George Whiting, sometimes referred to as “kidney slappers” because of they of how they slap the sides of the angler when you’re taking them off the hook are an excellent table fish.
I’ve seen good-sized whiting off Altona pier, in Melbourne, in January. This was first light on a very warm day. Before I could get setup swimmers started diving off the end and the whiting school was gone.
Choosing a location with seagrasses for King George Whiting is a good starting point. These days I use Google Maps satellite imagery to assist in finding locations. Some maps will show reefs, rocks, holes and seagrass areas.
Seagrass is where whiting finds their food – along with the advantage of being able to hide. An important factor for a timid, schooling fish.
This is one of the most important reasons for choosing a paternoster style rig for this species. The paternoster gets the bait above the seafloor, potentially above the grasses – and into the vision and smell range of the whiting school.
For example – Altona Pier – or offshore to the south-west of the boat ramp you’ll see seagrass areas that make excellent Whiting fishing grounds.
The Google Map technique is worthy of looking at a little deeper, so let’s discuss that further down.
Suffice to say, that focussing on seagrasses for King George Whiting is going to be your best shot. You are going to find them elsewhere, there are no hard and fast reliable rules. But it is the most likely place to find them.
I’ve seen good-sized whiting off Altona pier, in Melbourne, in January. This was first light on a very warm day.
Before I could get setup swimmers started diving off the end and the whiting school was gone.
As I mentioned earlier, you will find Whiting to be very timid.
While it’s a nice pier, Altona wouldn’t be my first choice for Whiting. This is despite the seagrasses and the new reef just offshore of the pier. It’s just to busy during the summer months. Unless you’re arriving a few hours before dawn.
You may find it a bit quieter during the week and on days when people are less likely to want to swim.
Which is a huge shame, because it’s otherwise a nice place to fish.
Well, more obvious but overlooked than secret.
When it comes to locating great fishing spots part of the battle for shore-based fishing is seeing the layout of the water.
Boaties have their fish finders and other cool tools that don’t work when you’re shore-based. But – if you have a smartphone then satellite mapping technology is what you need.Using Google Maps to catch whiting is a free and easy way to get finding likely spots.
While using Google Maps to catch Whiting won’t let you see the fish – it will let you see the topography – and that’s better than guessing!!
Choosing A Location: “Secret Whiting Tip”
One of the most useful and cool tools to be made available is mapping technology such as Google Maps and the availability of Global Positioning for anybody with a smartphone (or computer if you’re at home.)
This is something you can use for any fish species. Onshore or even on a boat in some places.
Plus – you can plan the spots you want to target at home. Mark them in using a variety of software – including many fish finders – and you’re done.
Whiting will most often be found in close proximity to seagrasses. So choosing a location with seagrasses is a good starting point.
This is where satellite imagery, using a tool like Google Maps comes in.
By examining the location you are intending to fish you can often clearly see reefs, rocks, holes and seagrass areas.
Seagrass areas are often slightly darker than sandy areas, but not quite as dark as holes, rocks and reefs.
So this method increases your chances of locating Whiting is a great way to find Whiting if you’re fishing from land.
Seagrass areas are literally King George Whiting central. You are going to find them elsewhere, there are no hard and fast reliable rules. But it is the most likely place to find them.
Unless there’s a really strong current a paternoster rig is the rig I choose for Whiting fishing in most instances.
Where there is a strong current a running sinker – or a hybrid paternoster rig with a running sinker is the ticket.
With Whiting, the goal is to get your bait just above the seagrass.
A Paternoster Rig is the ideal way to do this. The sinker sits below, allowing the bait to move freely above.
When it comes to Whiting rigs the Paternoster is probably the most common rig you’ll see most experienced fishos using for Whiting.
Just enough weight to hold it in place. Allowing your bait – or lure – to dangle in front of feeding shoals of King George Whiting.
Learning how to tie your own whiting rigs is an important skill. Tying a paternoster isn’t hard, but does require practice. So in the interests of helping you to get started fast – I’m going to suggest you buy some pre-tied paternoster whiting rigs.
You’ll find they are professionally tied, so quite strong. They use knots that help in avoiding tangles and they’re actually incredibly cheap to buy.
So cheap, in fact, I just buy them these days, only tying if I run out. This is because they mostly come with a good choice of hook sizes for KG whiting – and a sinker and swivel already attached.
A quick caveat:
Generally, I use the Jarvis Walker pre-tied rigs. There are others, including the excellent Black Magic range. I find the Black Magic rigs to be a little too expensive at some outlets.
While unquestionably quality made it’s just to easy to cast, snag and lose your rig. At around the $15, at some tackle shops, I think the, roughly $4 Jarvis Walker rigs to be much better value for money.
This is down to personal taste and experience. You may have or develop a different view. If so – that’s fantastic! I’d love to hear all about it from you in the comment section.
The JW rigs don’t come with the skirts and beads – but there’s is nothing stopping you from adding those yourself, if you wish to do so.
I bulk buy these rigs. That means I carry half a dozen in my tackle box, with a few different other kinds, like running etc as well.
Basically so I can change to different species and conditions depending on where I’m going to be fishing.
Generally, I’ll carry rigs comprised of either a size 6 or size 4 hook. I tend to lean towards the size 6 due to the shank length being about right for the soft plastic lures I use.
The sinker size is a 30g on these rigs. This gives you enough weight for casting and holding the rig down in most conditions.
Traditional natural, flesh baits are a popular choice for Whiting.
More recently soft plastic lures have been responsible for some good bags of Whiting, too.
Regardless of the bait, fresh, frozen or artificial, berley (chum) and attractants should never be overlooked.
Sandworms (aka Beachworms) are a popular Whiting bait. As are pippis, prawns and tenderised squid (Calamari.)
In soft plastics, I tend to choose the Sandworm style. These are look-alikes for the real thing in terms of shape, colour and texture.
I always recommend using berley.
A combination of whatever you’re using as bait, breadcrumbs or chicken pellets.
Either dip them in one of the tuna oil/aniseed juice mixes or buy a pre-mixed berley pellet bag.
Don’t berley enough to take away from your bait.
Just enough to get the fish in. For this reason, a berley distributor is ideal as it slows down the feed distribution.
In terms of attractants – my favourite remains Squidgy S Factor. I always carry a tube on me.
Rub some between your thumb and index finger. Smear it onto your bait or lure.
Cast out – and you’ll soon see why I swear by it. It rarely lets me down.
If you’ve ever seen aquarium fish going crazy, zooming around when there’s food in the tank at feeding time, this is kind of the effect S Factor gives you.
A feeding frenzy, according to the manufacturer. For once, the marketing department is not really exaggerating. I used it and have found it works, even, for fussy King George Whiting, extremely well.
In fact – the reason I recommend it is I’ve found it makes the difference, more often than not, between not even a nibble or bites – and actually catching fish.
As a bonus – snapper, flathead, bream, mullet and more seem to love it too!
Some species of the fish lunge and run – so you really know they’re there.
Others seem to strike and tug a bit.
Whiting is a little different.
It can be difficult to tell when Whiting has taken your bait.
You need to pay attention to your rod and line.
When whiting has taken your bait requires a little more finesse than some other popular target species.
Flathead kind of give you a gradual slow lazy tug. The snapper is inclined to slam or jerk. Bream will tap, tap, suck in and gently mouth the bait – then run. But King George Whiting tend to have a soft bite.
So you need to keep gently lifting your rod up and down. Testing for bites or the weight of a fish on your line. This will assist in knowing when whiting has taken your bait.
If you are using frozen bait then make sure it’s as fresh as you can. Replace it every few casts. Whiting can be fussy feeders.
Some of the pre-made rigs like “Whiting Snatchers” from Black Magic can really improve your strike rate. These rigs come assembled, usually as paternoster style, with glow-beads, feathers, glow-tubes and appropriately sized hooks.
They are a little more expensive than some basic rigs or DIY rigs, but they are proven in catching whiting.
When you finally land one for the first time – you’ll discover why some fishos call them “Kidney Slappers.” You’ll need to hold them, to remove the hook, in such a way as their tail slaps against your kidneys. This is because the whiting is a slender, long fish – and surprisingly slippery.
Don’t forget to check out the Tackle Box resource page. It’s a list I keep of my go-to gear. The tackle I use and feel I can confidently recommend to you. Plus some things I believe will help improve your fishing.
Also, if you’re interested in other Aussie fish you might like my article on How To Catch Flathead.