Scott’s Species – King George whiting, a fish fit for royals

Named after Albany’s King George Sound, King George whiting are an absolute favourite for inshore southern fishers, writes Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan in this week’s edition of Scott’s Spots.

Species: King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata
Eating: 4.5 stars
ID: Distinguished from other whiting by the brown, bronze colouring and dark brown to red spots and dashes along the body.

“KGs are a prized catch because they fight hard and taste simply superb,” – Scott Coghlan.

KGs, as many call them, can be found from Dongara south and their distribution stretches right across to NSW.

Frank Zanatta with a King George whiting off Mindarie. Credit Laith Rickman

However, they are most prominent along the south coast, where they are regularly targeted by small boat anglers, although they can also be caught from the shore in many locations.

King George grow to more than 2kg, at which size they are often called “kidney slappers”. Most KGs are caught from 30cm to 45cm and any fish bigger than that is a very meritorious capture.

The biggest I have seen was almost 70cm, but fish to 80cm have been caught in Australia.

KGs are a prized catch because they fight hard and taste simply superb, and they can be found from shallow inshore waters out into around 40m of water and sometimes beyond.

They like broken ground, interspersed with sand, weed and reef.

Popular baits include fresh squid (squid will often be caught in the same areas and a fresh slice of tentacle can be deadly on KGs), prawn, cockles and small pieces of fish bait such as whitebait or pilchards.

Small soft plastic worms are also very effective on KGs in shallow water. I’ve had some great fun sight casting to KGs in sand holes on bream gear with soft plastics.

Tackle does not need to be heavy, and 4kg to 8kg line is normally adequate.

Rigs can be very simple for bait fishing, with a smallish running sinker ample enough to get the line to the bottom, attached to 30cm of leader and a single hook from size 6 through to 1/0.

A traditional paternoster rig, with two hooks, will also work.

Hard-fighting with amazing table qualities, King George whiting are an all-round terrific fish.

While the south coast is the premier location for KGs, there is also a very good fishery in the metro area.

The average size is probably bigger around Perth, and some great fish get taken around Rottnest Island.

I’ve also caught nice KGs from the shore at Rottnest, as they are quite at home in its many reef holes.

Geographe Bay is also renowned for producing excellent fishing for KGs, along with the inshore waters of Esperance.

KGs will also be caught in estuaries and rivers at times, usually in smallish sizes.

Denmark’s Wilson Inlet can be a productive spot for them, while Albany’s Oyster and Princess Royal harbours also offer good KG ground.

Peaceful Bay is another good KG location and they often venture into the lower Blackwood River.

They sometimes show up in the Peel-Harvey Estuary and Dawesville Cut, and we’ve found them in some small south coast rivers and estuaries at times, including the Leschenault Estuary during the winter months.

Tom Miller with a ‘kidney slapper’ of a KG off Bunbury.