April 24, 2011

Mark Latti: Peepers a sign that smelt are set to spawn

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Rainbow smelt are found in Maine’s landlocked waterways, inhabiting lakes and ponds, and they also inhabit Maine’s saltwater bays and estuaries.

2004 file photo

Once I stopped, the light quickly was extinguished by whoever was there, fearful that they may give away their spot. Of course, three nights before, the local marine patrol officer said that there were more than 20 anglers at that discreet spot. I guess anything over 20 is too many.

Before you do go, make sure you check the regulations for the stream that you intend to fish. Smelt are an extremely valuable resource for recreational anglers, as a forage fish for trout and salmon, and commercially for bait dealers. Thus, they are regulated in order to protect them, and many areas are closed to the taking of smelt by dipping. The bag limit is two quarts of smelt for each dip netter.

Two quarts of smelts is plenty for a feed, and there are few things that taste better than freshly caught smelts rolled in seasoned cornmeal and flour and quickly fried. Of course, pan-fried brook trout with a few fresh fiddlehead certainly comes close, but we'll save that for another column.

Mark Latti is a former public information officer for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a registered Maine Guide. He can be reached at:



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