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King George Whiting


Sillaginodes punctata

Of the several whiting species found, King George Whiting is the largest and most renown. It would have to be considered as one of the best table fish around, and South Australia is most fortunate to have the densest concentration of King George Whiting, in Australia.

Recently, Coho, Chinook and I caught close to 25 kg of King George Whiting. (See Whiting 1 - Coho 0 for a reference.) If you work on an average of King George Whiting costing around $30 per kilogram, then we caught around $750 worth of fish valued on the market . Total expense for the trip, which includes food, refreshments, petrol, camping fees, boat hire, etc, for three people for 5 days was approximately $600. I think it was a worthwhile trip.

The fish themselves freeze very well, and the fish are very easy to scale and fillet. King George Whiting can be caught all year round, winter usually seeing the largest congregation of them in the gulf waters, while early summer can land you a catch off lower Yorke peninsula.

Dodge Tides can be slow, but you are more prone to get a hookup in shallower waters than the deep. Generally, with any fish, several hours after the turn of the tide, whether it be high or low, can be very productive. Once the King George Whiting are biting, it is important to land the fish, re-bait and recast your line as quickly as possible. King George Whiting tend to stay in one area for only around 20 minutes before moving on. Try casting to the edges of sandy patches among weed beds, as the fish tend to come out and sniff the berley and bait.

With the life cycle og Whiting, spawning takes place in April through June in mainly offshore areas. The water currents then carry the fertilised eggs and larvae into sheltered bays of mangrove tidal creeks and seagrass areas. Undersize fish are most numerous in the tidal channels and tagging has shown that their movements are not extensive at this stage of their lifecycle.

During the summer months, when water temperatures are relatively warm, growth is rapid and most fish reach a size of about 28cm, when about two to three years old. Areas where King George whiting is caught at this time include Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay, West Coast bays and Southern gulf waters.

By the time the fish have reached 35cm (three to four years of age) most have moved out from the bays, progressively moving into deeper offshore waters as adult fish. They can reach a maximum length of 70cm, weigh up to 2.5kg, with a maximum age of fourteen to fifteen years.

Legal Minimum Length

Current Limit: 31 or 30 cm, dependant upon location  Previous: 28 cm]

AreaMinimum Size LimitDaily Bag LimitDaily Boat Limit
For a minimum of 3 persons
East of Longitude 136
including all waters of SG & GSV
West of Longitude 136
but not including Gulf waters

PIRSA Reference Document - August 2004 ]
PIRSA Reference Document - November 2004 ]

Legal minimum length is 30 cm. The reason for such a size being stipulated is that at this length, the King George Whiting can spawn at least once, before it becoming a legal catch.

Bag Limit

Current Bag Limit: 12 per person  [Previous: 20 per person]
Current Boat Limit: 36 per boat  [Previous: 60 per boat]

Type of Tackle

Use line between 4 to 7kg.

A rod around 1.8m is ideal for both jetty and boat fishing.

Hook Selection

No.6 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" nylon snelled hooks that come pre packed are ideal. For the larger variety, a No. 2 or 3 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" hook may be necessary. These hooks have barbs on the shank, to better hold bait such as cockles more effectively. With the larger variety of fish, a 1/0 hook may even be necessary. Also, a short length of red plastic tubing inserted onto the shank and eye of the hook helps attract the fish.

Baits Used

Cockles, Squid, Prawn, Crab, Cuttlefish, Razer Fish, Pilchard Pieces, Whitebait and Tube Worms. I have always had great success using small strips and tentacles of Squid. Squid tends to stay on the hook better, and this bait will also take Snapper in the same area.

When baiting a hook with cockles, cover the hook completely with the bait, and place the black body of the cockle near the point of the hook. This is what the KG Whiting will go for first.

Berley Mix

A berley mix of the diced pilchards and pellets, crushed cockles, soaked in tuna oil works very well. Also mix in some chopped White Bread and Bran or Pollard.

In shallow waters, using a berley bucket will suffice. Or simply throw the berley into the water to settle, at timed short intervals. If boat fishing in waters deeper than 12 metres, a berley bomb of the above concoction may help, or use a fine scaling bag with a brick it in to settle the berley on the bottom.

Rigs Used

Rig No. 1
Rig 1 can be used either off a boat, or from a jetty. It incorporates a figure eight knot to hold the sinker, and several dropper loops to hold the pre-made No.6 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" hooks. Be sure to have plenty of hooks, as it's not just King George Whiting you could get with this rig, but Leatherjackets, who have sharp teeth and can quickly fray your line. The purpose of the spring sinker is to hold a berley mix in place, and slowly disperse it within the vicinity of your hooks.

When cast, take any slack out of the main line to ensure that if a bite occurs, your rod tip will bend. When King George Whiting bite, they distinctly pounce the bait 3 or 4 times. If attending to your rod, you can feel your line go "thud, thud, thud, thud" extremely quickly ! It is at this point that you should strike your rod.

Rig No. 2
Rig 2 can be used in shallow water, and at times where the King George Whiting can be touchy. It allows the fish some room to move and play with the bait, before a good hookup occurs.

As with any rig, you should also consider allowing your trace to be slightly heavier or stronger than your main line. When fish take the bite, they always exert more poundage force than their actual body weight. With a heavier line rig, it's more elastic and can take the initial shock and strain of a huge bite or a run. Remember, even thought the rig you're using is for King George Whiting, small Snapper also frequent the same waters, and they also provide a challenge in landing them. Hence a slightly stronger trace may come in handy.

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