Whitebait "I caught".

My darling has taken up a new hobby.  It started a couple of years ago, but last year he got more serious.  This year… well this year looks like the whole family will be involved.

My husband came home from work a few weeks ago and told me he had a present for me in his work van.  My beloved doesn’t get me presents very often, but when he does, they are doozies.  And this was a doozie to beat all doozies.  A whitebait set net.  Yes, my husband has been bitten by the whitebait bug and is going full scale with it.

Yesterday, as a family, we went whitebaiting.  Now I suppose I should explain to my friends who aren’t from NZ what whitebait are.  They are a delicacy, the baby fish of three native fish species.  They are born at sea, and during the Spring they head up river to grow up and become big fish.  They are basically see through, except when they have eaten something.

When my beloved informed me that WE were going whitebaiting, I thought – oh no.  What am I going to do for a couple of hours… Hahahaha

I took my research books and two notebooks with me and decided to make the most of the enforced time at the river and research some more of my historical novel and start some research / planning on my latest novel idea.

We arrived at 10am (ish) and found a spot and set up.  Which when you consider the river

My beloved watching his mates "stand"

we were on, it was packed within an hour, so we arrived at the best time.  Then we had to wait for the tide to come in… and wait… and wait… and wait.  My husband didn’t tell me that the tide was coming in about 1pm – three hours!

One of the rules of having a net in the river, is that you must be within 10m of it at all times… so that meant that I had to sit beside the net for the entire time we were catching fish… I really didn’t sign up for that!  In fact I didn’t even sign up!

So I researched, made notes and did what I needed to do.  I wished I had taken a book to read also, but I figured that we would only be there for a couple of hours… yeah right.  We spent the entire day at the river.  We watched whitebait come and go, move around the screens, come into the net.  Because our set up was a set net, with a trap, we really didn’t have to do much.  We didn’t have to scare bait into the net, then tip the net up and empty it out, we didn’t have to scoop to catch the slippery, jittery little buggers, we just watched, as they swam up into the net and got caught in trap.

The cleaned up, ready to cook, whitebait

We have quite a little haul.  1/4 of a pound, or 225g for those who are imperially challenged.  Apparently 6 is an official patty, we have enough for a couple of decent patties – at least 60 bait.

My husband and his mates called me the Queen of the River… I still can’t quite figure out why.  Apparently because “I caught the bait”… yeah – right.  I watched them swim into the net… that isn’t catching them.

But my husband thinks I am wonderful and clever, so who is going to disabuse him… not me!

Did I mention that I DON’T eat whitebait?  I think that is one of the reasons my darling wanted me to help him out on the river, we can have two stands (or the fixed net and the scoop net) and that is all the more bait for him!  There is method in his… madness!

Up there is an upside to sitting on a river bank all day.  After being sick for so long, I got windburn on my face, and people kept commenting on how my colour had improved…???!  Also, it is an awesome chance to catch up on research, it is quiet enough to plot and plan, but I probably should get a new battery for my laptop so I can spend at least an hour writing!

So while I initially thought it would be a dull day, it turned out to be a lovely relaxing day (even if it was enforced!), a day when I got a lot of research out of the way, and was able to spend time with my family.

Maybe Whitebaiting isn’t going to be such a hard thing after all!

My Husband’s Hobby…
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