Whitebait season gets underway

Hundreds of eager whitebaiters took to their local rivers around the country on Friday as the official whitebait season got underway.

Many of them looking forward to the first feed of whitebait for the new season. Of keen interest to anglers this year is whether the effect of regulations imposed by the Department of Conservation last year to limit the season has helped to increase numbers of the tiny delicacy.

One of the whitebait fishermen nestled on the banks of the Avon River on the first day was veteran whitebaiter Allan Parkhill. He said trying to catch the small freshwater fish was pretty much a waiting game.

"There's some good groups gone through. It's just a matter of them going into the net or not, because they like to go around it".

He's has been whitebaiting for 30 years, and is confident the season ahead will be a good one.

The Department of Conservation introduced new regulations last year reducing the season by six weeks, aiming to achieve more sustainable whitebait fishing.

However, the shorter season isn't stopping the keen whitebaiters from enjoying their time manning the nets, with Parkhill looking forward to returning to his favorite spot on the Avon River.

"Good clean water but there's a lot of weed though, you get a lot of weed".

The Christchurch City Council say fishing in the Avon and Heathcote Rivers is allowed, although there are no fishing zones in the Avon River between the Armagh Street Bridge and Barbadoes Street Bridge and within the Botanic Gardens.

The whitebait season will run from September 1 through until October 30.

By Geoff Sloan

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air