While local fishermen have settled in to new spots for boat launching and surfcasting since the temporary closure of Ford Road took effect on 1 August, Regional Council staff are encouraging whitebaiter fishers to also look for new options with the opening of the whitebait fishing season this week.
"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," said Kaituna Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy.
Access to the lower Kaituna River via Ford Road is currently closed until 20 December 2018, due to Kaituna River re-diversion construction works. Access to Ford's Cut and the stop banks on either side of the Cut will remain closed until the construction project is completed in June 2020. The Bell Road 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. The re-diversion project will improve fish habitat and the health of Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi Maketū 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 Maketū and Waihī 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 Road," Mr de Monchy said.
Mr de Monchy said that the partial restoration of freshwater flows from the Kaituna River into Maketū 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," he said.