If you hit it right — and you have the patience to clean them — rainbow smelt provide a traditional taste treat this time of year.

And with the onset of the January cold, smelting shacks located off rivers that drain into Merrymeeting Bay are set to open. Camp owners provide the camps, heated by wood stoves, and the bait.

All you need is luck.

“We’re hopefully opening on Friday,” said Sharon James, whose sons, George and Peter, run James Eddy Smelt Camp on the Eastern River in Dresden Mills. “We’re hoping for a longer season than last year. There was too much rain and runoff, and we were open for only three weeks. We’re hoping (to make it to) the first of March.”

James Eddy Smelt Camp plans to open at 6:30 a.m. Friday, for the outgoing tide. The other outgoing tide will be at 6:30 p.m., while incoming tides will be at 12:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

All 25 camps will be available for outgoing tides, while 15 will be available for incoming tides.

James Eddy charges $14 per person, and $3 for bait.

Leighton and Jim’s Camps, both located in Bowdoinham, also plan to open for the season on Friday, according to messages left on their phones. The number at Leighton is 666-5551, and the Jim’s Camps number is 666-3049.

Other area smelting camps:

— Prudy’s Smelt Camps, Dresden, 737-8826, 737-4553 or 458-9474.

— Cork Cove Camps, Dresden, 737-8856.

— River Bend Smelt Camps, Bowdoinham, 666-5945.

— Sonny’s, Richmond, 737- 8115.

— Jim Worthing Smelt Camps, Randolph, 582-3199.

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