Slow start to whitebait season

It was more about being riverside than the catches on the opening day of the season as whitebaiters braced a cutting wind on the Grey River today.

Some were up before first light to stake out their spot on the rocks, but others were camped out for a week to claim the most prized spots on the river.

With conditions choppy, the morning tide was dismal and the consensus was that high tide this afternoon would offer more.

Most could count on their fingers the number of whitebait they had either seen or caught.

Neil Richards took the day off of work and arrived on the riverbank at 6am in time to fish the tide.

"It's always exciting on the first day," Mr Richards said.

Despite not seeing much fish he was pleased to "get the net wet for the first time this year".

Joe Stewart, of Cobden, was there at 5am, but had a poor return to show for it.

"I might have a pattie, if I'm lucky," Mr Stewart said.

He has been whitebaiting every season for the past 20 years and was back in his usual position today.

"I always like to come out for the first morning."

He was not put off put by a cold and foggy morning, the Barber -- a local wind formation -- so thick at daybreak that it blacked out the sunrise.

"It's all part of the game," Mr Stewart said of the cold.

Bobby Gardener stayed overnight to ensure he had his spot, with only a few blankets and his dog to keep warm.

"You don't usually get a lot this time of year, I'm just getting used to the possie again."

He was also greeted by a foggy morning: "You have to be reasonably hearty to put up with it."

For all that he had seen only one shoal, but nothing worth stretching his net for.

"You don't know until the tide comes in. You just never know."

Gavin Ridley, of Kumara, came equipped with a survival suit to keep warm as he secured the coveted spot on the 'big rock' opposite the old Richmond Hotel.

He had a quiet morning but said that was about what he expected on opening day.

By Nicholas McBride of the Greymouth Star

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