Keen whitebaiters love being on river

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Not many people would turn down a great whitebait pattie, but why do people go to such great lengths to catch such a small fish?

Down past Mataura Island is a river where cabins and caravans line the bank.

These cabins and caravans belong to the whitebaiters of the Titiroa River.

Ian and Barbara Flutey have been whitebaiting the Titiroa for over five years.

“This August was better than normal – we usually have the best month around October but I think it came earlier this year,” Mr Flutey said.

The Fluteys said they find themselves at the Titiroa on a regular basis.

“We enjoy it here,” Mr Flutey said.

The pair said the whitebait patties were worth the day’s work.

No escape . . .Whitebait wriggle in the net.

Although whitebaiting is enjoyable and the tiny fish are delicious on their plates, there are a few fishhooks to watch out for as a whitebaiter.

Doc biodiversity ranger David Miller said there had been a few hiccups this season.

” Most whitebaiters have been following the regulations,” he said.

“The most common issues I’ve come across on patrol are fishing with more than 6m of gear – some whitebaiters are still not taking into account the rope that is used to take the net into the river and the rope that holds the screen to the stand – [and] pole length over the 6m allowed. One I measured was 13.2m, another 10m.”

Mr Miller said some whitebaiters needed to be more considerate.

“Some are fishing more than a the smaller rivers, be aware of the width of the river; if your gear measures six metres, the stream needs to be at least 18 metres in width.”

Apart from the misdemeanours, Mr Miller said the season was going well.

The muddy rivers did not seem to be causing any problems , he said.

“We’re now more than halfway through the season and I’ve observed some good catches on most rivers, despite the rivers running dirty at times.”

“Best of luck for the rest of the season.”