December 2018 update on King George whiting tagging project
A total of 480 King George whiting have now been tagged in Port Phillip and Western Port by recreational fishers in five main areas (Figure 1).
There have been 22 recaptures of tagged whiting, giving a return rate of 5 % so far. The longest time between tagging and recapture so far has been 11 months for two fish in Western Port (Figure 2).
Fish have been recaptured close to the location where they were tagged, indicating that the whiting in the bays are quite site attached. The only exception was a fish tagged in Western Port near Somers that was recaptured near San Remo about 11 months later (a straight line distance of about 20 km – see Figure 3). Fishers are still catching some large (38 cm +) whiting, but most of the catch at the moment is dominated by smaller fish (25 – 30 cm).
As the large fish from the strong 2013 year class move out of the bay, they are being replaced by a strong year class from 2016, which are now 2 year old fish in the 25 to 30 cm range. We expect good fishing for this cohort of fish over summer and autumn (and they will be a bit bigger by autumn!). The good news is that the 2017 and 2018 recruitment of baby whiting has also been above average (Figure 4), so we will have good numbers of fish moving into the fishery over the next couple of years. Whiting fishing in our bays should be at its best for the next 2 or 3 years so sharpen those hooks, tagging guns etc. And please be on the lookout for tagged whiting as there are a good number out there now!