An invasive species that has a large and healthy population in Lake Superior and some other larger inland lakes (Jessie on Nipigon River). Its small size, relative fast reproduction and schooling behaviour has quickly made the smelt one of the more dominant prey species on the lake – specifically for trout and salmon species. As a result they have forced native species out or diminished their numbers.
Smelt may be small but the make up for it in numbers, they are great with a simple flour/salt/pepper dusting and fried in butter, I have even smoked them to great fanfare. Smelt jerky
Lifespan: 7 years
Habitat: Large schools
Spawning: Springtime (4-6 C)
Spawn habitat: rivers, small streams off larger lakes
Foods: zooplankton, small invertabrates, small fish
Common Baits: Minnows, Leeches, Artificial tubes/Jigs, Worms
Length to weight Formula: Does it matter?
Dipping for Smelt
Smelt dip nets are small holed, long handled nets meant for small fish, larger fish if caught inadvertently can destroy some nets.
It is important to know that smelt are spooked by light, shining a light constantly at the mouth of a small creek can actually block them from running until you leave, if anything your catch will be greatly diminished. Finding a deep pool or some structure blocking the current a bit will be a good place to stake out. Using your flash light sparingly (on/scan/off) simply wait until your hole starts holding fish.
Proper dip netting is to place the dip net upstream and in a quick but constant motion run the dip net downstream along the bottom fast enough to keep the net open behind the loop. Flowing the net with the current tends not to spook the fish and allows for a more natural netting.
Dip netting should be done in the dark, when you take a scoop, never have a light illuminating the area.
Smelt are extremely sensitive to attacks from behind, since they always face into the current when swimming upstream, a net from behind will spook them and since they can be extremely fast your catch will be diminished.
One should always start a dip from upstream and move the net with the current downstream over the target area.