Tips for Catching King George Whiting in Port Phillip and Westerport Bay - Sillaginodes Punctata
King George Whiting (KGW) are in abundance around Port Phillip and extremely prolific in Westernport Bay. As a general rule of thumb it is best to fish for KGW between November and April for the best results, however, they are a fish species that can be caught in decent number throughout the entire year.
A few condition that make KGW hungry to take a bait are as follows:
- Water Temperature
- Change of Tide
- First and Last Light
When the water is clear, I find it best to fish a little closer to shore, I like to fish hard up against a weed bed or a nice little reef system. Over the years I have found when the water is a little dirty and you can’t see the bottom, your better off fishing the deeper water. KGW love to hang around sand patches throughout broken reef or rocky bottom and also weed patches. The reason for this is because their favorite food sources live in these types of areas. Such as worms, bass yabbies’, prawns and any small crustaceans.
There is much debate around the spawning patterns of KGW, and if it occurs in Victorian or South Australian (SA) waters. I do recall reading a good acritical a few years back that indicated the breading does occur in the South Australian systems and that the Victorian estuaries/bays are simply a nursery for these popular fish. Whatever the scientific facts really are, it means we are really lucky to have both our Victorian bays stocked with an abundant amount of KGW.
There are many hot spots for whiting in Port Phillip, such as Black Rock, Sorrento, Mordialloc, Werribiee, Corio Bay, Kirks Point and from Clifton Springs through to Queenscliff. Altona was once a great hunting ground for KGW, if you were a land-based angler or fishing by kayak, however, KGW are not as prolific as they once were in the area. Hopefully, with the withdrawal of commercial fishing, KGW will come back into the inshore systems around Altona. Having said that, if you have access to a boat there is still some good whiting grounds in the Altona area. KGW are abundant in the Westernport system, and you will catch them in great numbers from Stony Point all the way to Warnett, at the top end of the bay.
Victoria has limitations for the capture of KGW, which differ from other species of whiting which can be caught in Victorian waters. Size and bag limits apply to KGW as follows: (always follow the advice of the Victorian Fisheries)
- Minimum legal size is 27cm
- Bag limit of 20 per angler
Other whiting species such as Grass etc.
- No minimum legal size
- A combined total limit of 20 for one or more species of whiting (other than KGW)
Now when it comes to gear, your best bet is to go as light as possible. A nice long rod with plenty of bend and is soft in action, around the 7 foot plus mark is a good start. Combo that with a nice light 2000 or 2500 reel and you are good to go, this will give you a nice balanced rod. I use a Savage Gear 1DFR 6’6 in length, mostly because I fish from a kayak and long rods are hard to manage on a kayak. But if you are fishing land-based or from a boat the 7 footer works well.
When it comes to sinkers, it is really dependent on where you are fishing. I would suggest you use an Ezyrig slider or a large dropper loop, so you have the freedom to interchange your sinker at will. If you are fishing in Westerport, you will need to change your sinker’s weigh according to the ebb and flow of the hard running tides. If you are fishing in Port Phillip you can fish with much lighter sinkers as the tidal flow is fairly gentle, with the exception of the heads of course.
Six to 12 pound main line is a pretty good starting point. One piece of advice I can give you about your main line is, do not buy the cheapest on the market, as this line will often tangle very easily and will be a regrettable purchase. I’d opt for something in the middle of the road from a price point. I also suggest using a fluorocarbon leader. This can range from 10lb through to about 30lb. Now I hear you saying 30lb is heavy for KGW, but again, this is dependent upon where you are fishing. Without a doubt, the lighter the better, however the heavier leader does have its place, when you are fishing on the edge of reef, and if you encounter other species.
Hooks are one of the most important factors in staying connected with a fish. Longshank bait keepers are ideal for KGW around sizes 2-8. KGW are inquisitive fish and seem to be attracted to bright colours such as red, pink or lumo. So when attaching your hooks, it is a good idea to add a lumo bead or a piece of red tubing. The other rig to consider here is the humble flasher rig. Flasher rigs usually come in a paternoster style rig. Flasher rigs for the most part utilise circle hooks, which are awesome for whiting. I love to use circle hooks, as they allow the angler to fish multiple rods, given that the fish will hook themselves with this style hook pattern.
As we touched on a bit earlier in this article, the best baits for KGW are bass yabbies’, sandworms, squid or cuttlefish, and of course pipis and mussels. One thing for sure is you must burley up and burley hard, to bring the fish to you. If you don’t get a hit within in 15 minutes pull up your burley and move location until you find the right spot.