Whitebaiting on in earnest



You may love them or hate them, but it is whitebait season again and tidal river banks around the Clutha region are full of whitebaiters all hoping to stock up on that silvery miniature delight.

But ask any whitebaiter how much they have caught, and most offer an ambiguous answer or reply with a simple shrug of their shoulders.

However one dejected angler of Galaxias attenuatus(whitebait, inanga or inaka), sadly admitted to catching just 14; not kilos or pounds – just 14 in total for the day so far.

Relaxing with a good book on the side of the Owaka River was retired engineer Phil Sell, who said he was waiting for the tide to turn, adding that he is always happy with whatever comes out of his nets.

“I’ll be happy with a pound or two at the end of each day,

“It’s been a fair season so far, but it may pick up later,” he said.

“It sure beats sitting around at home or mowing the lawn.”

Mr Sell added that his spot on the Owaka River was quite nice.

“It’s quiet, you can relax in the car or out on the chair with a book while waiting for the tide to turn.

“Everyone keeps to themselves, not like the serious guys out at the Clutha mouth.” Mr Sell added.

Further along the river bank was Queenstown-based Karl Wood.

“I’m just waiting for the tide to turn, and as it’s my first day on the river we will just wait and see what happens,” Mr Wood said.

A bit further along was Gordon Dolamore, who comes to the Owaka River area each year to chase the elusive culinary treat.

“I’m hoping for a pound or two per tide,” he said, eagerly looking in his pail to see what nature had delivered on the rising tide.

“I got quite a few here after just an hour, so I’ll be checking it a bit more now that the tide is turning.”

Nationally whitebait catches are in decline, and Doc asks that whitebaiters help prevent any further decline in this delicacy by keeping their catches small and only taking what they personally need.

The whitebait fishing season for most of New Zealand runs until November 30.