Tuki trout off anglers' menu after virus hits

By Lawrence Gullery

A Hawke's Bay fishing club is refusing to eat trout caught from the Tukituki River after one of its members fell ill with a water-borne virus while fishing in the river.

Tamatea man John Field is still recovering from a virus which caused his foot to swell up after a day's angling at Red Bridge, near the Waimarama Beach turnoff.

"When I went to bed that night I was okay but then later I felt my toes getting sore," Mr Field said.

"I got up in the morning and my foot was all red and swollen, a purple colour, and I started to get the shakes so I went to the doctor."

Mr Field was prescribed a course of antibiotics but his foot did not heal, prompting another visit to the doctor.

"I had blood tests and got another course of antibiotics. My doctor spoke to an infectious disease specialist who said it was a water-borne virus."

He was not wearing waders when he fished the river and came to the conclusion the illness was a result of being in the water.

"They said it was a water-borne virus and the only place it could have come from was when I was wading in the river."

He planned to go fishing yesterday in the Mohaka River - his first outing since falling ill on February 12.

"I was laid up for about two weeks. I'm okay now but my foot is still a bit swollen. What I hope from all of this is that our rivers will be cleaned up. Most of the rivers are pretty low at the moment and when that happens you get algae toxins coming down."

A member of the Napier Freshwater Anglers' Club, Mr Field said his ordeal was mentioned at its meeting on Monday night.

Club president Hugh Peterson asked members to be careful if they were fishing in the Tukituki River.

"I think the problems with the Tuki are no secret especially at this time of the year.

"There was a bit of discussion about whether you should eat fish coming from that river and the general consensus was, no way."

Mr Peterson said the river was popular with anglers and held a good number of fish when it had good flow.

"We hope the proposed dam may improve the minimum flows coming down so fishers, swimmers, canoeists, everyone can enjoy using it."

Napier man and keen freshwater angler Nic Haakman said he mainly fished on the Tutaekuri close to home but often went over to the Tukituki where he once caught his biggest brown trout.

He keeps up to date with health warnings over the rivers and uses the "catch and release" rule.

"I do like taking the odd fish home to eat but if there's a warning in place I won't take them home. I'll just put it back in the water."

He could not see how the flow of the rivers could improve during summer drought conditions.

"Short of asking farmers and orchardists to stop taking water, I'm not sure what else to do."

Hawke's Bay District Health Board reiterated the warning it issued on January 16, after a dog became ill and died after it went into a pond near the Tukituki River.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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