Bait run 'in the lap of the gods'

Even after a good spawning season and recent rain, the Otago whitebait season, which opens tomorrow, remains "in the lap of the gods", Department of Conservation Coastal Otago freshwater team leader Pete Ravenscroft says.

Mr Ravenscroft said high river levels pushing freshwater out to sea often attracted whitebait back up the rivers.

"Generally, after a fresh, the run is pretty good."

Doc and farmers had protected 16km of whitebait spawning grounds in recent years and there were indications spawning had been good.

"It does not necessarily mean a good season. It is all in the lap of the gods."

His tip for opening day was to stick to the big rivers like the Taieri or Clutha.

Didymo was still an important issue for whitebaiters to be aware of and they were reminded to clean nets and other gear when moving between waterways to prevent spreading it, he said.

It was only in about 30 of Otago's 1100 waterways, so it was not too late to take prevention measures.

"It's crucial that all whitebaiters clean their gear between all waterways, to protect our waters - including whitebait habitat - against didymo."

The local season runs until November 30.

The West Coast season begins on September 1.

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