Whitebaiters who normally head to the lower Kaituna River are being asked to look for new spots to fish.
While local fishermen have settled in to new places for boat launching and surfcasting since the temporary closure of Ford Rd took effect on August 1, regional council staff are encouraging whitebait fishers to also look for new options now the whitebait season is open.
"We've tried to let as many people as possible know about the road closure, but it may still come as a surprise for some whitebaiters that haven't visited since last year," says Kaituna catchments manager Pim de Monchy.
Access to the lower Kaituna River via Ford Rd is closed until December 20, due to Kaituna River re-diversion construction works.
Access to Ford's Cut and the stopbanks on either side of the cut will remain closed until the construction project is completed in June 2020. The Bell Rd boat ramp remains open for people to launch onto the Kaituna River.
"Changes to flows through Ford's Cut will make it less suitable for whitebait during the construction period, so fish numbers will be low there anyway," says Pim.
"The re-diversion project will improve fish habitat and the health of Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi Maketu Estuary in the long term. In the short term, whitebaiters will need to try some new fishing spots nearby.
"The lower ends of the Kaikokopu, Pongakawa and Wharere Streams can all be accessed via public roads, as can the Maketu and Waihi Estuary entrances.
"If people are prepared to walk, they can also get to the Kaituna River through the Lower Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve on Pah Rd."
Pim also says the partial restoration of freshwater flows from the Kaituna River into Maketu Estuary is just one of the many projects underway that will benefit whitebaiters over time.
"Whitebait species spend most of their lives in freshwater rivers and streams. We're working with landowners to identify and reduce run-off sources, restore wetlands, plant stream margins, and take other steps to restore water quality and fish habitat that has been degraded through historic land use change.
"In the past year we've delivered 22 riparian improvement projects in the Kaituna Pongakawa catchments; protecting 33km of waterways in partnership with landowners.
"Those projects have included work to improve the spawning and rearing habitat of inanga which is the main species in whitebait catches here."