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As we enter late winter, and with spring just around the corner, many keen local people will be gearing up for the annual whitebaiting season in the Hawke’s Bay.

The region is fortunate to have a relatively consistent and abundant whitebait fishery.
The whitebaiting season starts in Hawke’s Bay on 15 August and lasts until 30 November everywhere except the West Coast of the South Island, where the season starts on 1 September and ends on 14 November. Fishing is permitted between 5 am and 8 pm only, or between 6 am and 9 pm when daylight saving comes into effect.
For all fishers, it’s important to check you are meeting requirements, such as using only one net at a time, staying within 10m of your net and checking that your net doesn’t exceed more than one third of the water channel width. There are no changes to the regulations for the 2019 season.
There are substantial penalties for offending against whitebait regulations. Fishing gear can be seized, and fines imposed of up to $5000 for offenders.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) Rangers are carrying out compliance patrols throughout Hawke’s Bay whitebait spots, both prior to and during the whitebait season. The reason for whitebait rules and regulations are simple: all whitebaiters benefit from a level playing field and the whitebait resource is maintained for future generations. DOC administers regulations regarding fishing methods, timing, location and net size to ensure that enough young fish get upstream to mature and subsequently create new whitebait for the future.
Pamphlets outlining regulations are available at sport shops or your local DOC office. DOC also publishes “The Whitebaiter’s Guide to Whitebaiting” which is available online.
Later this year, DOC will be consulting the public on improving whitebait management, including reviewing the whitebait fishing regulations. Information on that process can be found on DOC’s website.
Anyone observing out of season or illegal whitebait activity can call the DOC emergency hotline 0800 362468. DOC will follow up information received and take action where required.
Whitebait are the juveniles of six species of fish. Five of these are migratory galaxiids: inanga, banded kōkopu, giant kōkopu, kōaro and shortjaw kōkopu. The sixth species is common smelt.

Hawke's Bay whitebaiters gearing up for the season

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