the dominant species of smelt in the u.s. is the rainbow smelt. and smelt ice fishing is strangely fun. after all, it is cold and there won’t be any casting. just drill a hole, usually with an ice auger, through good safe ice to access water in liquid form. always good to know the regulations except that for smelt fishing; you’ll only need to punch a hole about the size of a 50-cent piece. these fish are slender and small, maybe only in the 6-8 inch range, and weighing just a few ounces, or about the weight of a ball point ink pen. smelt have such small mouths that they may not be hooked but are just hanging on to the bait, generally wax worms or such. as one might expect, they can’t put up much of a fight even on the tiniest tackle. but smelt ice fishing trips are astonishingly amusing.
then hold the smelt over a 5 gallon bucket, shake them off (remember, they probably are not actually hooked), laugh, and repeat. although bait sized and used as bait for pike, walleye, catfish, etc., smelt may not be considered a “bait fish,” with regards to daily limit. for example, in pa, the baitfish combined limit is 50, however, for lake erie, if you are catching smelt on hook and line, there is no limit. originally found in atlantic watersheds in the northeast and the alaskan and canadian watersheds of the pacific according to the usgs, smelt ice fishing trips are now possible in about 30 states because they have been widely introduced. check your state regulations when you get a new fishing license and see if this wackiness is available in your area this winter. subscribe to our newsletter and get all the information you need to learn, plan, and equip for your next fishing adventure. in zoology from osu, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at osu, iowa state, and michigan state. the largemouth bass is the most popular freshwater game fish in the u.s. learn more about how you can identify a largemouth bass, where to catch it and what bait and lures to use. subscribe to our newsletter and get all the information you need to learn, plan, and equip for your next fishing adventure. get fishing tips and tricks and read personal stories from anglers who live and breathe fishing and boating.
ice fishing for smelt is a maine tradition that involves plenty of food, grog and friends, along with a tiny, silver fish the moon rose, the wind dropped off and the sharp sound of fracturing ice reverberated through the evening as the tide pushed up the brackish cathance river in bowdoinham, maine, smelt capital of the pine tree state. dressed in wool pants, a wool shirt and a rabbit fur bomber hat, bristol dragged a small sled loaded with food, grog, a butane stove for cooking, extra lightbulbs, nails and more down the gangway to the ice. it’s an excuse to get out of the house and act up a bit.” food is a big part of the scene, and we ate well during our evening tide. “it’s all part of the maine smelt experience,” says bristol, a freelance writer from lyman, maine, and a director emeritus of the new england outdoor writers association.
of the blitzed bus visitors of yore, he says, “they were a little hard to handle. ten lines with a weight and a small hook attached to each are lowered from the pole. the fish don’t seem to make a whole lot of difference.” although we wound up with nary a smelt in our bucket, the night and the company were pleasant, the camp was warm, and we left the frozen cathance river with full stomachs. a light reflected off the ice between the rows of shanties.
that’s how smelt appear when you’re angling through the ice with hook and line for finger-length fishes. attractive, endearing, delicious smelt ice fishing requires ultra, ultra-light ice fishing tackle. these fish are slender and small, maybe only in the 6-8 inch range, ice fishing for smelt is a maine tradition that involves plenty of food, grog and friends, along with a tiny, silver fish., .
if you’re ice fishing for smelt, try bringing a lantern or submersible bulb to place near your ice hole. after about 20-30 minutes of the another trick- if you catch a bigger smelt hook it through the back onto a big swedish pimple or anything flashy and hang it just a couple feet don’t be afraid to fish them right under the ice in 3 ft of water. jumbo smelt 8-10″ work well for most size pike. it’s best to mostly thaw the smelt before, .
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