Little Fish Are Sweet

There is a certain fascination with little fish in New Zealand and watching and learning from the whitebait fishermen in the Haast area, and tasting this delicacy, was one of the highlights on my recent visit to the South Island.

Legend has it that the best whitebait are caught on the wild West Coast of the South Island which is an incredible area of wilderness.  Word soon gets out when the whitebait are running and each spring, you will find hundreds of fisherman trying their hand at catching the tricky little devils as they make their way upstream from the sea.  The little whitebait swim close to the river’s edge and are quite elusive.  Big runs often follow floods, a few days after the water clears, and usually in the daytime on a rising tide.

Strict controls have been put in place by the Department of Conservation to control whitebaiting due to declining catches. Fishermen must have a licence, can only use one net, and must be within 10 metres of it at all times.  A variety of nets are used to catch whitebait, and they can be fixed screens, or hand held.

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“West Coast Whitebaiters”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Inside the Net”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Setting The Net”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Claire”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Help Is Golden”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Dressed To Fish”       © Sue Thomson 2014

The beautiful West Coast landscape is simply breathtaking.   Dotted along the river banks, are funky retro caravans or baches (shacks) and are used as whitebaiters take up residence for the season.  In next week’s blog, I will be sharing images of these quaint little abodes.

Whitebait fritters or patties are the most common way that the little fish are cooked. Eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and whitebait are added together and spoonfuls are then fried in butter or oil. The fritters are often eaten between slices of buttered white bread. I had mine with a salad and oh yes, little fish are sweet!

I hope you have enjoyed the blog.  I will be sharing more of my New Zealand images this month on FACEBOOK , so hit the LIKE button if you would like to see them.

I also look forward to sharing more of my documentary work with you this year via the Getaway Images  BLOG.

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Comments

  1. Nice photos, especially dressed to fish.

  2. A nice story (both text and visuals). I enjoyed whitebait fritters to celebrate New Year’s Eve whilst recently in Queenstown. NO flour (just eggs) in the extravagant ones I was offered!

  3. Thanks for sharing Sue! I learned something new!

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