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Old 02-25-2021, 06:36 PM
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Default Anyone else here enjoy going after smelt?

It's that time of year when I start thinking about the ice thawing and the smelt running. Anyone else here go after them?...

I asked a year ago for advice finding a dip net for smelt that's built to comply with NY's regulations - no larger than 14 inches in diameter if round or 13 inches by 13 inches if otherwise - but got no answer to my question. Turned out I wasn't able to go last year, anyway, due to the pandemic. (I've greatly missed the activity but haven't engaged in it for quite a few years now, since I lived in MN and WI as a young man.) But in the hope that I'll have been completely vaccinated by the time the run starts at my target location in NY's Adirondacks in late April, I just went ahead and ordered one of Cumings' steel mesh offerings for the purpose. They oddly make their "NY" nets 13 inches in diameter rather than 14 inches, smaller than allowed, but I guess I won't mind too much if I have to take a few extra swipes with it in order to collect my 2-gallon limit.

http://ssl2.tkwebhosting.com/~cuming...Y&s[cid]=0

Anyway, I'm just curious about whether I'm the only one here who enjoys the pursuit or the addition to the menu. And speaking of the latter, if anyone else here DOES enjoy smelt, too, I'd love to hear about any unusual and tasty recipes you might have for them.

Gerry
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2021, 06:54 AM
REW REW is offline
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GBIN
Many years ago, I went a few times - with friends to Lake Superior for the smelt runs.

We would fish - near the mount of a creek - but not in it because it was prohibited. Normally we would bring back enough smelt to hold us for the year.

But, over the years, the numbers have decreased in the lake and now - I am not sure that there is really much of a run any more.

But, it was an enjoyable time at that time.

Be safe

===============
From another source:
"The smelt population has declined so much, so quickly over the past two decades that most anglers don't even bother trying anymore. Why it's occurring isn't simple to explain. Researchers said they think the arrival in the Great Lakes of invasive species like zebra mussels disrupted the food chain and plays a role"
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:01 AM
Ozark Bob Ozark Bob is online now
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Golly! I would have guessed it was the years supply being removed each spring. Lake Michigan petered out a good 25 or 30 years ago. I think the introduction of Salmon started the decline. Bob
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:56 AM
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Dad used to take us down to Burnham Harbor on LM in the 70's. He lost interest in fishing and my older brother and I took over all his gear. We continued to hit the smelt run with a couple gill nets into the late 80's and early 90's but we never caught as many as when we were kids. I'd be surprised if folks are allowed to fish off those docks anymore. I live in central WI now and I wouldn't go to downtown Chicago if the lakefront was filled with #12 walleye. Visiting family in the SW suburbs for a few days at a time is as close as I get anymore.

As for recipes, we always fried them up in a simple beer batter in a beer can full of oil because we rarely remembered to bring a skillet.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:14 AM
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Yeah, that's where I learned about smelt, dipnetting at the mouths of feeder rivers/streams on Lake Superior's North Shore when I lived in MN, pulling a seine with friends along beaches on its South Shore when I lived in WI. Great times...

Smelt have certainly decreased in some places. I imagine harvest has something to do with it, but from what I understand it's more a problem of siltation or other degradation of spawning sites, water quality changes that result in reduced food availability, and increased numbers of predatory fish. And they're still something of an invasive species in other places.

My target lake in the Adirondacks has a thriving population, though, and good numbers of large lake trout and walleye as a result. And yet only an hour or so away from there, also in the Adirondacks, is the very big and beautiful Lake George, where they only recently resumed allowing the take of smelt, and only in limited numbers; they introduced smelt there way back when (as they did all over the place) to add to the forage for lake trout and landlocked salmon, but essentially all that happened is that they replaced the native cisco there that were the natural forage for those predators. That's the history of freshwater fisheries management in America: one huge, careless experiment.

Gerry
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbin View Post
It's that time of year when I start thinking about the ice thawing and the smelt running. Anyone else here go after them?...

I asked a year ago for advice finding a dip net for smelt that's built to comply with NY's regulations - no larger than 14 inches in diameter if round or 13 inches by 13 inches if otherwise - but got no answer to my question. Turned out I wasn't able to go last year, anyway, due to the pandemic. (I've greatly missed the activity but haven't engaged in it for quite a few years now, since I lived in MN and WI as a young man.) But in the hope that I'll have been completely vaccinated by the time the run starts at my target location in NY's Adirondacks in late April, I just went ahead and ordered one of Cumings' steel mesh offerings for the purpose. They oddly make their "NY" nets 13 inches in diameter rather than 14 inches, smaller than allowed, but I guess I won't mind too much if I have to take a few extra swipes with it in order to collect my 2-gallon limit.

http://ssl2.tkwebhosting.com/~cuming...Y&s[cid]=0

Anyway, I'm just curious about whether I'm the only one here who enjoys the pursuit or the addition to the menu. And speaking of the latter, if anyone else here DOES enjoy smelt, too, I'd love to hear about any unusual and tasty recipes you might have for them.

Gerry
That was a teenage pastime that was a great reason to be at the lake drinking beer at 4AM, loved it. Have not thought about it ever since but I sure love smelt.
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Old 02-26-2021, 04:28 PM
3M TA3 3M TA3 is offline
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Out last spring on the Carp in the UP. Must have been 250 or more netters there.. After watching for a while I got my net, stood on the concrete walk area and in 15/20 minutes had my 2 gallons. It was nice. Reminded me of a trip to the Tawas River, about 1974 (Wurtsmith AFB). Two scoops filled a 5 gallon pail. Talk about running black. Woohoo.
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Old 02-26-2021, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbheli View Post
That was a teenage pastime that was a great reason to be at the lake drinking beer at 4AM, loved it. Have not thought about it ever since but I sure love smelt.
On one occasion when I was a teenager I had my life saved by a guy who plucked my drunken a$$ out of an icy Lake Superior North Shore river. I apparently staggered out into the water to try my luck at dip netting some smelt, was immediately knocked down by the current and was in the process of being swept out into the lake when he grabbed me and hauled me out - no small feat with my chest waders full of water (no life vest, of course) and me no help whatsoever! At least I managed to hold on to the net. I remember none of it, but friends have never let me forget their experience of it.

That's why the expression "young and stupid" exists, I guess. Lucky so many of us manage to survive it (albeit sometimes with help).

Truth be told, though, I was still pretty young when I learned that catching smelt and doing other things were actually a lot more fun - not to mention safer - when they were done sober. Nowadays I rarely even buy a 6-pack of beer, as the last of them will likely go stale before I get to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3M TA3 View Post
Out last spring on the Carp in the UP. Must have been 250 or more netters there.. After watching for a while I got my net, stood on the concrete walk area and in 15/20 minutes had my 2 gallons. It was nice. Reminded me of a trip to the Tawas River, about 1974 (Wurtsmith AFB). Two scoops filled a 5 gallon pail. Talk about running black. Woohoo.
I remember a few times like that, myself. Really gets the heart pumping to think of them!

RE: recipes. All I've ever done is batter and fry them, too. But the mother of a couple of childhood friends used to make an incredibly tasty dish with smelt baked in an Italian red sauce along with other ingredients that I don't clearly remember, so I know some people are a whole lot more creative. She's gone now, but maybe one of her sons got the recipe from her; I'll have to ask them.

Gerry
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:57 AM
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I went smelting a few times back in the mid 1980's in the upper reaches of Lake Oahe south of Bismarck, ND. At that time, the guys that introduced me to it brought coolers full of them home for a smelt fry at the local VFW where I lived at the time. It was an annual event for them.
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Old 02-27-2021, 03:59 PM
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I never went fishing for them but sure enjoyed them fried.
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