Unfortunately, the smelt run has diminished once again, folks. “The wind switched, started coming out of the south, and pushed everything out into the deep water,” said Roger LaPenter, proprietor of Anglers All, referring to the drop-off in numbers on Friday night.
Roger said he only harvested 30 lbs. of smelt last night behind his shop, compared to about 250 lbs. Thursday night. He said those winds from the south were “pushing the warm water out and bringing the cold water in.”
He said smelters did not fare very well at Bayview Park (also known as Pamida Beach) either. The popular spot for smelters along U.S. Hwy. 2, across from what is now Shopko, was crowded with hopeful people armed with their dip nets.
“The forecast calls for southwest winds tonight,” Roger noted, “so we’ll see what that does. It (the run) might be winding down now anyway.”
You can still satisfy your craving for some Chequamegon Bay smelt today at Sanborn Community Park, where they are having a smelt fry from 3-7 p.m.
Smelt can no longer be purchased
from Anglers All. Roger said he has more orders right now than he can probably fill with the way things are looking. River Rock Inn & Bait Shop does not
have any smelt for sale at this time either and is not
accepting any orders.
Visitors and locals alike love the short but sweet smelt season on Chequamegon Bay. The smelt usually run late at night and are brought in with a seine net or dip net. The seine net is used on the shores of the big lake and some smelters use a dip net in the creeks.
Smelting is always a fun time with the smell of the clean air of Chequamegon Bay and the awesome sight of the many campfires along the shoreline. Smelters light campfires and enjoy the outdoors as they wait for the run to come in heavy. At times, the smelt may start running at 9 p.m. or they may be running at midnight or later. They are unpredictable little fish (approximately 4 to 5 inches in length) that only answer to Mother Nature.
Smelt were planted in the lake many decades ago and are not a native fish to Lake Superior. There is an old tradition that you bite the head off the first smelt brought in. Of course, you don’t actually eat the head, but you would be a brave smelter for sticking with the custom.
For more information on smelting season in the Ashland area, call us at 1-800-284-9484 as we currently have a smelt hotline set up. (NOTE:
If you call before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, you will reach one of our Chamber staff members who can give you the smelt report. If you call after 5 or on the weekends, you will hear the smelt hotline recording.) We will be updating the smelt hotline message through the weekend, so please keep checking back for the latest information!