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Upper Peninsula Smelt Fishing

Fishing Reports for Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Evening Anna River smelting- near downtown Munising, Michigan

What is smelt?

Smelt, known best as a tasty batter-dipped, French fried morsel, is a seasonally sought after fish by anyone willing to wade a river and scoop them up with a large net... usually occurring during darkened evenings in early Spring on tributaries of the Great Lakes. 

It happens every year in early Spring as smelt make their ritual arrival up rivers to spawn.  Avid smelters, dress themselves with waders or hip boots (depending on the depth of water) and line the river with a large dip net used to scoop smelt from within the flowing river.

Captured SmeltYears gone by, smelt dipping was considered a ritual as well- by locals and visitors from all over the country. They'd line river banks with buckets and coolers and in most cases, always filling them up to the brim. The smelt was then taken home, cleaned, stored and or shared with relatives friends and family.  Smelt is also stored and used as fishing bait during the Spring and Summer fishing seasons.

These days are different. It is quite unclear, but it appears the smelt population has been deteriorating. In most recent years smelt runs have been sporadic and extremely light, and rather than scooping up a dip net full, current averages are only a few smelt at a time. Long time smelters seem to believe that river-run smelt will make a come-back, and it is this notion that compel smelt dippers to return again and again to Lake Superior & Lake Michigan river tributaries.

 

Smelt Fishing & Dipping Report

Last smelt season erupted in northern Luce County around April 20th when a thrash of warming rains filled tributaries to produce very good results, however in other area rivers, smelt were scarce at best.

Pick out a couple of areas to consider, and follow the weather patterns closely. Continuous rain showers, along with warming temps are usually a good indication in narrowing your options down. An early Winter thaw will usually bring about an early smelt run.


Smelt fishing with hook and line through the ice.

If you're willing enough to brave the elements during Winter and poke a few holes through the ice on Lake Superior's Munising Bay, you just may get lucky catching smelt through the ice. 

Lake Superior Smelt are the biggest and best eating of all the Great Lakes.

 

Additional Smelt Dipping Resources

Smelt Fishing on Munising Bay
Little known, Munising Bay has got to be one of the most beautiful areas to go fishing this side of Canada.

Smelt - Osmerus mordax *
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Identifying Characteristics

Smelt Dipping *
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides a great article on smelt fishing in Michigan.

Smelt Dipping Opportunities *
How far do you want to go to dip for smelt? Do you want to know where all the Michigan Smelt Streams and Great Lakes Shorelines Locations are? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources have a handy dandy Adobe pdf file that lists them all in Michigan including the Upper Peninsula. Now go ahead... make your plans.

 


 

Document updated
Tuesday, 26-Nov-2013 19:17:57 EST


When fishing... always reel in more Nature than fish!


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