minnows or other small fresh- or saltwater fish (especially herring); usually cooked whole
the edible young of especially herrings and sprats and smelts
The young of various species of fish, especially herrings, sprats or smelts, served deep fried as a starter or snack
Whitebait is a collective term for the immature fry of fish, typically between 25 and 50 millimetres long. Such young fish often travel together in schools along the coast, and move into estuaries and sometimes up rivers where they can be easily caught with fine meshed fishing nets. Whitebaiting is the activity of catching whitebait. Whitebait are tender and edible, and can be regarded as a delicacy. The entire fish is eaten including head, fins and gut. Some species make better eating than others, and the particular species that are marketed as "whitebait" varies in different parts of the world. As whitebait consists of immature fry of many important food species it is not an ecologicially viable foodstuff and in several countries strict controls on harvesting exist.