Whitebaiting starts on 15 August 2019

Whitebaiting starts on Thursday 15 August 2019, and it looks like there’s a decent stretch of river for it. This year too, the all-purpose entrance off Manga Pirau Street is in excellent condition for vehicles.

Remember to check the whitebait regulations.

Also, whitebait are in decline — we are losing more of them each year, but you can help:

  • Follow the whitebait fishing regulations.
  • Keep your catch small and only take what you need.
  • Release species that are not whitebait.

Inanga are the most common and smallest of the whitebait species, but they are declining.

Inanga have an unusual lifecycle. They begin life as eggs laid in vegetation beside streams in late summer and autumn. When the eggs hatch, they are carried downstream as larvae and spend the next six months at sea. In the spring they migrate upstream as whitebait and grow into adult fish.

You can pick out inanga from the mix of whitebait in a catch by their tiny, black mouths. They also have spots along their bodies and in front of the dorsal fin on their backs. Inanga have slim bodies and are often longer than other species in whitebait.

Inanga ready to spawn.
Fat silvery bellies of adult inanga (80 mm long) ready to spawn
Image: Martin Rutledge. Photo source: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/freshwater-fish/whitebait-migratory-galaxiids/inanga/

River mouth and groyne on 09 August 2019.
River mouth and groyne on 09 August 2019.

River mouth on 09 August 2019.
River mouth on 09 August 2019.

2 thoughts on “Whitebaiting starts on 15 August 2019”

  1. I Am A White Baiter. I Grew Up White Baiting At Waikawa Beach On The Waikawa River As A Child. I Also Fish On The Waikato River Which Is Vastly Different. I Have Major Concerns About The Inflammatory Comments Made By People Largely Ignorant Of The Understanding Of White Baiting And White Bait Habitats. They Read All About Their Life Cycles But Have Little Understanding Of What Occurs After That Or Their Spawn And Where They Migrate. There Is No True Scientific Proof Of A Nation Wide Decline Of Whitebait, However There Is Definitely A Decline In Certain Rivers. This Is Due To Habitat Conditions More Than Over Fishing Of The Species. The Decline Of White Bait In Certain Rivers Has Many Reasons. Farming Effluent, DOC’s Spraying Of River Borne Plants And Grasses That Exist On The River ( Eel Grass, Crocodile Weed etc ) ,Koi Carp, Human Excrement Discharges From Bach’s On Some Rivers, Stagnation And Plantation Of Flora Which Aid In Wind Protection That Helps To Slow Down The Speed And Agitation Of The River Itself. Declination Is Very Local. Personally I Have Observed A Decline In The Waikawa River But Not So On The Waikato River. White Baiters And Farmers On The Waikato River Have Been Doing Plenty To Help Manage The White Bait Eco System. Stagnant Areas Of Weed Have Been Removed To Encourage Flow In Silt And Mud Ridden Areas. Farm Runoffs Into Drains That Run Into River Tributaries Have Been Fenced By Farmers So Cattle Can No Longer Have Access To Those Drains. Eradication Of Koi Carp Who Feed In Mass Shoals Along River Bank Edges And Destroy Laid Eggs Are Being Culled. Some Of These Issues Need To Be Deployed In Other Rivers Including My River That Is Waikawa. Banning The Sale Of Whitebait Will Not Stop Fishing. It Will Merely Push It Underground. Many New Zealanders Like To Have A Feed Of Whitebait. Banning The Sale Means That Many Kiwis Will Not Be Able To Enjoy A Cultural Pastime Whether It Be Maori Tikanga Or Kiwi Tradition. In My Opinion Banning This Pastime Needs Plenty More Deliberation Before Laws Are Implemented To Ban The Fishing Of White Bait. There Are Many People Spouting Their Opinions But Not Many Really Understand The Ecology Of White Bait.

  2. i agree.
    having fished the Hokitika River on and off for the last 50 years I see no evidence of a decline in the fishery.
    As my father said 50 years ago when similar calls were made,” Whitebait seasons have always been up and down. People only remember the years of the big runs, and forget the bad seasons. After every bad season people speculate that they are being fished out.
    I suspect that it is more to do with environmental factors we cannot control such as weather and tide conditions during spawning / breeding and migration in and out of our rivers. Also the catch now is shared amoungst more fishermen / women.

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