Excellent catches keep whitebaiters happy
Hauls of up to 31kg reportedBONNIE STRAWBRIDGE
Whitebait are flowing well in Nelson and Tasman with happy fishers reporting bucketloads of the delicacy.
Conservation Department ranger Simon Bayly confirmed the whitebait were just starting to run but part of fishing etiquette was not to divulge your fishing patch.
"I heard of a catch of five pounds [2.2 kilograms] recently," he said. "But I cannot say where."
Mr Bayly said whitebait had not been running up until now because of the flooding. "They have been stuck out in the bay. As soon as the fresh water flows in, there will be more."
A Nelson Mail reader has reported whitebait running "really well in Motueka".
The woman who did not want to be named because "whitebaiters don't like to share the love", said in the Motueka area on Tuesday many whitebaiters had got catches of 8kg to 13kg and "one lucky bugger" got 31kg.
She said the whitebait were also flowing yesterday, with half and full buckets reported.
On Tuesday in a space of barely 100 metres between the Collingwood St Bridge and the Riverside footbridge, four hopeful whitebaiters sat along the banks of the Maitai River.
With one job completed already that morning, plumber Clive Hodder felt justified in casting his net and was down at the river by 9am.
He was set up with a chair, radio, book, thermos flask and even had dog Wilbur with him. But he had not had any time to read his book.
The whitebait were flowing.
"A good couple of shoals gets you on your feet," he said. It was the first time he had been to the spot this season, but with the amount of whitebait in his bucket, he would likely return. Just 20m down along the bank, Terry Wiechern who has been whitebaiting for several years had his set-net in the water.
He was pleased there were no ships in on the day which meant he would have been working down at the waterfront.
He usually fishes out at Appleby but was at the Maitai as the Appleby River was still in flood.
"People go far and wide to catch the little critters," he said.
While the Maitai was still flowing fast, he said the fish swim closer to the banks and that may have accounted for the half cup he had caught in an hour.
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