METROPOLITAN KING GEORGE WHITING
The King George Whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus), also known as the Spotted Whiting or Spotted Sillago, is a coastal marine fish of the smelt-whitings family Sillaginidae. The KG is endemic to Australia, inhabiting the south coast of the country from Jurien Bay, Western Australia to Botany Bay, New South Wales in the east.
The King George whiting is the only member of the genus Sillaginodes and the largest member of the smelt-whiting family Sillaginidae, growing to a length of 72cm and 4.8kg in weight. The species is readily distinguishable from other Australian whitings by its unique pattern of spots, as well as its highly elongate shape.
King George are often found in bays and protected waterways over sand and seagrass beds, venturing out onto deep continental shelf reefs during adulthood. The species is a benthic carnivore, consuming a variety of crustaceans, polychaete worms, molluscs and fish.
Reportedly worth over $5,000,000 AUD per year, it forms the basis of one of southern Australia’s most important commercial fisheries. The species is also heavily targeted by recreational anglers, who value this particular whiting for its sporting and eating qualities. The King George is indeed the king of its species.
Where To Catch Them
King George whiting can be located right along the Perth metropolitan coastline and are easily targeted from both boat and shore, making them an extremely popular species for many anglers. Areas such as Rottnest Island, 3 Mile Reef, 5 Fathom Bank and Cockburn Sound are all popular locations to find a KG or two.
They are also commonly encountered from shore-based locations such as ocean marina rock walls, beaches and local rock platforms. King George typically prefer shallow waters with a mixture of weed, sand and reef to roam around in but are also encountered out on the deeper reefs and gravel patches with some regularity.
- Water Depth: 3 to 40 metres
- Water Temp: 19 to 23 degrees
- Preferred Weather: Calm and Warm
- Tides: Top of high or bottom of low. Some locations may produce better when tide is flowing in or out.
- Time of Year: Spring to early Winter
- Rods and Reels: 2500 class spin reels and light 6–10lb graphite rods around 6’ in length.
- Lines and Leaders: 6–10lb braided or nylon line and 10–20lb fluorocarbon leaders. Braided lines for deeper water with lures and baits and nylon lines for shallow water bait fishing.
- Knots and Rigs – Double Paternoster rig, light running sinker rig, Doug Clegg rig.
- Hook sizes between #6 up to 3/0 are preferred depending on the size of the fish being targeted or baits being used but KGs will take a large bait happily.
- Preferred baits and lures: Fresh squid tentacles, shelled cockles, peeled coral prawns, whole mulie cubes or fillets, combination baits also work very well.
- Try a piece of mulie or peeled coral prawn tagged with a small section of fresh squid tentacle.
- King George whiting will also take lures such as small soft plastic worms and prawn imitations, along with small metal jigs but are more commonly caught using bait.
Locate a likely looking area in around 5–12 metres of water and try drifting around using a variety of baits and rigs.
Anchoring and berleying is also a popular technique in shallow waters or rougher conditions but does tend to bring other species around in greater numbers.
Be prepared to work your way through a few by-catch species as many fish frequent the same areas King George are found. It’s also handy to have a spare rod or handline rigged with a squid jig as big squid will commonly chase hooked fish to the boat in these areas.
Sizes and Bag Limits: At Nov 2019 fish need to be 28cm and you can take 8 per angler. However, always check the Fisheries website for current regulations as they change without notice.
Edibility Rating: 9 out of 10 – all fish kept for the table should be immediately placed into an ice slurry (two thirds ice and one third seawater).
Nick’s Favourite Recipe
Simply scale and fillet or fillet and skin then place into a plastic bag with seasoned plain flour and shake well until coated.
Now dip into egg wash and place into bag of Panko breadcrumbs. Shake well, remove from bag and shallow fry in quality oil until golden brown.
Serve with chips and salad.