Calling a whitebaiter an enthusiast is an understatement. They're fanatics.
Don't believe me? Head down to the Mokau River on a cold morning and watch them wade almost neck-deep in the freezing water for hours on end.
Their commitment is unquestionable; in fact it's unrivalled.
Sure they wear wetsuit waders, but even snow didn't stop whitebaiters heading for the rivermouths around Taranaki on open day.
If you could've separated yourself from the hot water bottle you would have seen them, those mad men and women, plunging their nets towards the sandy depths, waiting for the shoals to arrive.
Someone you might have seen is Geoff Preston, a Mokau local, living legend and self-confessed fanatic.
The fact he has a specially designed net, so he can "get deeper," says it all really.
Geoff's enthusiasm is obvious as he explains how after one good catch many years ago he was hooked.
"You just get that adrenaline rush, it's like an addiction," the 50-year-old says.
Big catches usually occur when the water's dirty and conditions are rough, that's why whitebaiters are out in all weather, he says.
"If your net's raining whitebait, you're running to the bucket to empty them out and then getting straight back in the water cause it doesn't last long."
"I've had it where they are pinging off your frame there's that many of them, but that only happens once or twice a year. Sometimes you will catch kilos and that's what makes all the other times worth it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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