Life by the river is catching

Ask Esmey Fletcher how much whitebait she has caught and she will get a bowl out of the fridge to show you.

''We're counting them,'' she said of the 15 or so wriggling fish she and stepmother Esme Crowley had caught on the Taieri River so far yesterday morning.

Yes, they both have the same first name. Coincidence? No.

Mrs Fletcher's father, Richard Cull, dated Mrs Crowley in his youth but they only became an item much later.

When Mr Cull and his first wife had a daughter, he suggested she be named Esmey.

Many years later, after the death of his second wife, Mr Cull and Mrs Crowley reunited.

Now, Mrs Fletcher, her husband Peter (Fletch), her father and Mrs Crowley, who have homes on wheels, spend a few weeks together whitebaiting at the Taieri River.

''It's lovely and peaceful,'' Mrs Crowley said.

Yesterday, the women were left to man the whitebait stand while their men headed off to a machinery sale.

''Goodness knows what they'll come back with,'' Mrs Fletcher shuddered.

It was an issue because Mrs Fletcher and her husband live permanently in the 12m house bus, which they had parked alongside their whitebait stand.

''We absolutely love it here.

''We do some fishing as well and go into Mosgiel and Dunedin for our bits and pieces.''

The Fletchers, who also have a base in Clinton, plan to stay for about three months while they build up their supply of whitebait for the year.

''We all eat them so it's not so good if we want to save them for next year.''

Mr Cull and Mrs Crowley, from Invercargill, have a modern motorhome in which they travel around the country.

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