Story: Whitebait and whitebaiting

Stokell's smelt

Stokell's smelt

Stokell's smelt are often caught in whitebait nets. They are found only on the east coast of the South Island, around the river mouths and estuaries of the big braided rivers – from the Waitaki in the south to the Waiau in the north. The smelt spends most of its life at sea, and in spring migrates in large shoals into river mouths. They spawn in summer and autumn on silty river beds where there is little current. The fish is named after biologist Gerald Stokell, who did much to advance understanding of New Zealand’s native fish.

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Whitebait and whitebaiting - Whitebait in New Zealand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 June 2024)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 24 Sep 2007, reviewed & revised 23 Jun 2023