365 Days of Fun and Chillaxation – Blog#159 – Whitebaiting Season in Aotearoa – Highly Entertaining
Kiwi school holidays! My little brother and his family have come to stay. They rocked on up in their eighties style Land Rover which was just dripping in holiday paraphernalia. We’re talking the kayak, the fishing lines, the bikes, the scooter, a couch, the chilly bins, the food, the clothes, including a large supply of cloth nappies, the dog and her bed, and the whitebait net.
It was with great glee that my brother (who is the ultimate hunter and gatherer) and his son set off this morning in their jangly four wheel drive with the white bait net. It was a beautiful blue-sky day so I knew they’d find a throng of characters who set up camp on the shores of our rivers each season with their nets.
People are fiercely passionate about white baiting. It has its very own distinct sub-culture. I’ve never been a white baiter myself, it just doesn’t appeal to me. But my father was keen, so from a very young age I’ve spent time in the midst of the yearly excitement. One of the really funny things I like about this group is the way some of them will always insist ‘they’re not running today’ when people ask how well they’re doing. This is just in case you were intending to set up a net yourself. Also, white baiters often come to have their own patches on the river, some people come year after year and even hand them down to their kids. People still seem to measure their catches in ‘pounds’ rather than ‘kilograms’. And a feed of white bait is one of the most special rituals of the year for some families.
My brother came home with what he excitedly estimated to be three to four pounds. He insisted on weighing them and we didn’t have scales so he set off to find some. He came home still excited to say he’d caught just over two pounds. So then the ritual began. Locally made beer was cracked open. The frying pan heated up. And the cooking began.
Tonight my family enjoyed a feast. And now I am full.
There are many version of the ‘best’ white bait pattie recipe out there, this is our very simple and delicious one:
1 pound whitebait
1 egg (or just enough to hold it together, you want more white bait than egg)
Mix them up and fry them.
Onto the patties must be squeezed fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt. Mmmm! White bait are very rich and taste like the river. Members of my family have always insisted that they hardly need any thing added to them as they are a delicacy.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in the great kiwi school holiday experience with my whanau. It reminds me of my own wild days, also spent here in Golden Bay and involving many sea food gathering adventures.
Today’s rating 10/10
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