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Posted By schlot,
Apr 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM
I use to go to smelt feeds in NW Wisconsin years ago. Any place still hosting them?
Huh, didn't know smelt existed other than in northern Maine. You all have fiddleheads too?
OK what is a smelt feeds?
Dipnetting to catch them, usually do it at night for whatever reason.
I don't think they are native to Wisconsin and I thought I heard the runs don''t produce the fish since the DNR's are cracking down on invasive fish...but I might be wrong.
There are smelt in all the great lakes as far as I know. For sure lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior. In northern MI folks can get 3 runs at smelt. They usually start first coming out of lake Huron, then MI and lastly Superior. I remember one fellow who came for me one night because the smelt were running really good. He had his pickup filled with old barrels. We let the kids do the dipping and we stayed warm by the fire and also enjoyed some drink... It took the kids about a half hour to fill all the barrels. Never dreamed they would be that thick but I swear one could have almost walked on water that night because of so many smelt.
Yes lots of smelt on the south side of the up. I've never heard of a "smelt feed" and don't know what that is.
I'd imagine they're mostly done running by now. Its hard to say with this weird elongated winter/spring.
Sounds like fun. Do you need a license for catching them or does the DNR encourage it?
I saw online that Ashland WI runs usually are the last week of April.
when water temp is 42 / about when the peepers start peeping. It's time to go smeltin'
Fry 'em up like French fries.
If I remember right, the feeds I went to they just chopped the heads off and you ate the rest.
We use to go to the Lutheran church feed in Hayward, lots of fish and potato salad!
I haven't had them since I was a kid (80's) and they were still plentiful in one of the finger lakes of NY. My dad used to go up and bring home a bucket full, do as you described (gut / de-head) then lightly coat them with breading and fry the rest.
Been a long while, but I still remember them being premium eats.
If you icefish/icedrink or just fish iceshanty and myfishfinder are good forums to be on to keep current on when they are running in your area.
It all depends on when the ice gets off the bay.
Though for some of the more longer winters they have been know to run under the ice.
Haven't been smelting in years, last time I went was in 88, caught quite a few on the Whidlesy creek just using a dip net.
From what I heard the smelt have been very limited as of late, either due to comercial fishing, becoming fish chow before they can start their run, or even pollution.
I am originally from Ashland, left in 89, now I only get back there when I vist my parents.
If anyone wants to go smelting and you are not from the area it is required that you use a fishing pole with a hook and a worm.
I really enjoy Ashland. Took the kids up many times to dive off the old ore dock. The small one that is. LOL.
They are taking down the Ore Dock, one of the biggest man made structures.
The main reason was due to drought conditions, the water level in the lakes have been down for the last few years and it is causing the pilliers to decay.
So if you haven't been there in a while better get there soon before they finish there job.
Fished off it many of times when I was younger, even fished inside it (the diamonds), when it was cold and windy.
Good place to catch Perch and Brown Trout.
The tall one right....the old swimming dock is still there right?
Smelt have to be the cheapest form of protein known to man. Back in the day, they kept many a grad student from starving. Here in the mid-west they're available in grocery stores around this time of year.
Cut the head off with scissors, then cut along the belly, pull out guts, poop, etc with finger, rinse and cook in a pan with some butter. mmm.
My Mom used to bread them sometimes too.
I have done night fishing with hook and line for smelt sitting in the ice fishing cabin. Can't dipnet in the winter. We'd catch our limit in a few hours usually.
History of Smelt in the Great Lakes. http://www.seagrant.wisc.edu/Home/Topics/FishandFisheries/Details.aspx?PostID=360
Here is a funny Smelt story.
When I normally go smelting I typically keep some for bait.
Well my mom got into my bait and cleaned them (cut off heads and de-gutted them).
When I went fishing with them inside the diamonds in the dock, I seen a fish swim up to my bait (a headless, guttless, butterflied smelt), it swam around it a few time (bubbles came up I could actually see what looked like a smile on its face), then it swam away. About 3 minutes later the same fish came back with another fish both swam around the bait (bubbles came up).
You could imagine what was going on; the first one after seeing such a funny site, went and got a friend and they both had a good laugh.
Needless to say, it wasn't a very good fishing day and I came home with no catches.
For sure a license is needed.