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Whitebait, if you have not tried them before, are a tiny, wriggling, juvenile form of five different species of freshwater fish. They may not sound that exciting, but they are in fact a kiwi icon! Every year as the whitebait season approaches, the whitebaiters start talking about where and how they are going to catch the elusive schools of tiny bait.
Will, Vix and Gussy went to visit two veteran whitebaiters Geoff and Clint, a father and son duo, who have been fishing on this part of the Opawa river for 15 years. For three years they have been feeding a pair of rare black fronted tern with spare whitebait, throwing the bait in the air for the terns to catch in flight. Clint and Geoff catch bait sustainably, always observing the regulation set by the Ministry of Fisheries and catching only what they can eat and share with friends.
“The best way to eat whitebait is fried in butter in a little egg, salt and pepper and eaten hot between two slices of buttered bread” says Geoff.
Be part of this classic kiwi experience, meet Geoff on a whitebait tour by kayak. These tours are scheduled for the best tide for catching whitebait on weekdays and weekend “Except on Wednesdays” says Geoff, “because that is the day I plays bowls”. Will can cook you up a taste of the whitebait experience on a gas cooker on the riverside.