At this time of the year the whitebait season is in full swing and many enjoy the delights of fresh whitebait fritters.

Whitebait are those tiny, transparent creatures that navigate their way along our streams. The small fish caught by whitebaiters are actually the juveniles of five species of fish - giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga and koaro. Whitebaiting takes place anywhere a stream meets the sea.

While most whitebaiters do a great job and comply with whitebait rules and regulations, there are sometimes people that - knowingly or unknowingly - breach those rules.

The regulations are in place to protect whitebait species so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

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The whitebait season for most of New Zealand, including Bay of Plenty, is open between August 15 and November 30.

Fishing is only allowed between 5am and 8pm or between 6am and 9pm during daylight savings.

Whitebaiters are only allowed to use one net at a time, must stay with the net and must take their fishing gear out of the water at the end of the day.

One last important rule is fishing gear should never exceed one-third of the water channel width.

We ask whitebaiters to familiarise themselves with whitebait fishing regulations. Department of Conservation rangers will also conduct patrols over the whitebaiting season.

You can call DOC on 578 7677 if you would like to find out more.