Whitebaiting joy at 'best-kept secret in all NZ'
SHIRLEY WHYTE AND ALANA DIXON
Whitebaiters are lining up on the banks of the Waiau River, near Tuatapere, to secure their possie for the whitebaiting season ahead.
Beautiful blue skies and calm conditions got the season under way, but the bait proved to be illusive.
Bev and Fraser Flint, of Invercargill, have been whitebaiting on the Waiau River for more than 30 years, buying a bach on the Bluecliff Beach Rd 14 years ago, which they use constantly during the year.
“This is the best-kept secret in all of New Zealand - people just don't realise what Tuatapere has to offer.”
The couple said they don't usually catch much whitebait, they just enjoy being by the river and sea.
“The river is always different. It changes every year and you never know what it is going to be like until you arrive. We have seen Hectors dolphins, southern right whales, seals and we have even seen a penguin on the beach - we just love it,” Mr Flint said.
Tuatapere resident and Bluecliff Beach Rd bach owner Peter McDougall said he had whitebaited on the Waiau River for at least 30 years.
“This season has gotten off to a bit of a quiet start with the water being a wee bit dirty; however we are all confident that we are going to have a brilliant season from now on,” Mr McDougall said.
The Conservation Department was also pleased with the start of the season.
DOC Murihiku compliance and law enforcement ranger Kelwyn Osborn said he had been out ensuring compliance, and was pleased with the behaviour so far.
"It was pretty good, really," he said. "The majority of people are fine; they're out there fishing, and there's been a bit of bait caught, so that's good."
Nobody visited yesterday was caught breaching regulations, but a few reminders, for things such as people's gear "getting close" to exceeding 6m, had been given.
DOC would check compliance regularly throughout the season, he said. "I guess it's about being out there and enjoying the recreational side of whitebaiting . . . [Whitebait] is a native species, it is a natural resource, and it's something the whole community needs to take an interest in looking after, by observing whitebaiting regulations, by creating habitat, and catching enough for a feed."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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