Hunting King George Whiting
Now that we have hit winter, it is a great time to hunt for King George Whiting (KGW). It might be cold, but there is still plenty of fishing to do. This article is all about pursuing KGW, as they are a great species to target for a number of reasons, they are a hard fighting fish for their size, they are great eating, and most of all, they are a fun fish to catch on light gear.
At around $50 a kilo on the market, it makes good sense to catch them yourself. KGW are for the most part targeted by anglers not so much for their fighting ability, but more so for the eating quality. Having said that, they are a little tricky to catch if you are new to whiting fishing, so let’s now take the time, to give you a few tips to get you on your way.
The Gear You Will Need
Ok, to get out and catch some whiting, there is a few little things you will need, which won’t cost you a fortune. If fishing from a boat or a kayak, it is a good idea to make use of some snapper racks or a good rod holder such as a Railblaza or Scotty holder in the case of a kayaker. These will help you use multiple rods, they can also provide a better hook up rate, by presenting your bait better by having your rod out on a horizontal angle, rather than sitting up high in a gunnel mount rod holder. It’s up to you how many rods you want to fish at a time (within your State’s legal requirements of course), it really comes down to whatever you are comfortable managing. If the fish are going hard then you are better off keeping one rod in the rack and one in your hand. If the fish are a little on the slower side, then I find it best to fish three or so rods at a time.
The other important piece of gear you will need is a burley basket or pot. Burley pots are cheap to buy and easy to use. Chuck whatever burley you want into your pot and you are good to go. I use a recipe of burley pallets, fish frames, crushed up mussels, and pilchards all mashed up. The key thing here is to keep mashing up your burley now and then, to ensure that all your little bits a filtering out, which will help bring the fish around.
When it comes to rod and reels, the idea is to keep it simple. All you need is anything from 1000 to a 2000 size reel. Braid is probably the best to use, as it is ultra sensitive and has minimal stretch, which will allow you to set those hooks easier. As for your rod, all you need is 1-3kg and approximately seven foot in length. The seven foot length of the rod will help keep a good spread of your rods, and prevent your lines from tangling. You don’t need a really expensive outfit and cheap combo will get the job done, but obviously the more expensive gear will last you longer.
Now Let’s Discuss Rigs and Hooks
Ok, so there are two very effective rigs that you can use to catch KGW, the first rig is the paternoster rig and the second is the running sinker rig. When it comes to hooks there are two pattern styles that are great for KGW, the first being the circle hook, the second being a baitholder hook or otherwise known as a longshank. The circle hooks are great when you are fishing multiple rods as the hooks are designed to hook the fish without any intervention of the angler, you don’t need to strike the fish, just simply lift up the rod lightly, and put a little pressure on the fish to set the hook firmly. The advantage of the baitholder hook is that it is great for threading up or bunching up baits, such as pipis or mussels.
There are plenty of premade rigs on the market, such as the whiting snatcher, which are a paternoster rig with flasher hooks, most of these rigs utilising circle hooks, these rigs are the most popular way of targeting whiting these days. Given the habitat that you will find whiting in, the paternoster is the best option as the sinker sits to the bottom of the rig, whilst your hook will be drifting above the weed beds, this results in less snagging up. The other benefit of the paternoster flasher rig is that the angler has two baits on the same line, which will eventuate in a double hook up, especially as KGW for the most part are a school fish, and are competitive for a feed. Flasher rigs come in a variety of colours and use a lumo bead for extra attractant. So the best way to hedge your bets here, is to fish with paternoster rigs using circle hooks in you rod racks and the rod you fish with in your hands should be a running sinker with a longshank hook set up. I use 12lb fluorocarbon leader, with a small swivel at the top down to a ball sinker and lumo bead and finish off the rig with a size #4 longshank hook. Obviously the weight of the lead is dependent upon the tidal flow of where you are fishing. Another variation of this is to add a little bit of red tubing down to the hook.
Obviously bait is extremely important in being successful, there are a number of baits that can be used from little fish strips, pilchards or blue bait, mussels, bass yabbies’, pipis or squid. My favorite is a combination of squid and pipis (cocktail). Like with any kind of fishing you want to get the freshest bait as possible. When baiting up squid cut it up into thin little strips almost like a tentacle and simply pin it at the top of the bait leaving a long dangly bit of flesh for the fish to tuck into. If the fish are picking at the bait then try threading it around the hook a few times which will keep them from baiting you.
When preparing the combination of squid and pipis on your hook, always start with the pipi first as it is a softer bait and KGW may get it off easily, however, the squid is hard for the fish to get off the hook, therefore we put the squid on last. Now ensure you fold the pipis on your hook tip several times prior to attaching the squid piece. The main thing to remember is to ensure that you expose the barb and tip of the hook.
It is important when targeting KGW that the angler focus on the tides, the best tides are the peak of the high or the peak of the low, you want to be fishing two hours prior to those peaks, as it provides currant flow, which the whiting love, the flow will also bringing out little curstations a food source that the whiting love to eat.
Look for weed beds amongst sandy patches, this is the ultimate place to target whiting in anywhere between the depths of 3-10meters. Once you have found your ground that you want to fish, drop in your burley pot, bait up and cast out your rods and sit back and wait for the action. If you don’t see any action within 15 minutes, pull up anchor and you burley pot and move to a different location. Keep doing this until you get a good school underneath you, it can be a hassle to keep moving but it is well worth it in the end.
So get out and have yourself some winter fun and get a nice feed.
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