Tag Archives: Smelt

1-29-16 – Smelting Done Wrong

I set up with a buddy on a summer smelting spot in hopes that the smelt would still be around. Neither of us had much experience fishing the lake through the ice so it was a shot in the dark as to whether or not we would go home with a skunk. As dark approached, slight flickers near bottom on the flasher started to reveal that we might be correct.

Once it was dark, it took about 5 minutes to hook into the first smelt of the night. It came from the bottom in just under 40 FOW. A slow retrieve up brought numerous fish up throughout the water column following. While things seemed like they were turning in our favor, that was not the case.

The next 2.5 hours were a struggle. We worked up and down in the water column with only  a few more smelt coming topside. Even though the bite was slow, we constantly marked fish all around below us.

We changed up our presentation with as many variation as we could could come up with but nothing seemed to help. The bites were to few and light to be successful. I will be back again before ice out in hopes of better luck!


3-12-15 – Gills, Cusk, And Smelt

The posts have been lacking lately but with a change in the seasons coming, times are busy!

After a solid solo morning trip for gills, the main focus of my day was an evening trip I had planned with a buddy. He wanted to catch some cusk but after a few weeks since my last trip, I was unsure how the bite would be. Regardless, I had a bucket of dead shiners and plenty of batteries for the headlamps.

We were set up well before dark with cutbait staggered between 20-60 feet of water. No action occurred before sunset and it took a while for anything after dark set in. With a super slow bite in progress, we hooked up the hydro glow and jigged up smelt to pass the time.

Fortunately, the smelt were willing to bite. With only a few cusk coming topside we at least redeemed our night. After a few hours we packed things up and made way for home!

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3-6-15 – Panfish And Smelt

I had plans to fish alone for the day but a buddy was getting out of work early for an evening smelt bite. I figured it made sense to be in the area so I headed to a nearby panfish pond.

It was a beautiful morning with temps getting into the mid 30’s by the afternoon. The fish bit well to make things even better! I found fish in a concentrated area and only had to cut about a dozen holes for the duration of my time there.

I fished above the weeds with an orange Caty teardrop and maggots. The fish were aggressive and I was able to sight fish once the holes stayed clear of slush because of the sun. While all the holes had different weed layouts, there were a few with weeds almost to the surface. Those holes with tall weeds allowed me to catch the fish within about a foot of the ice. What fun! Around 3, I packed up my gear and made way for our rendezvous point at 3:30.

The smelt spot we selected was ideal because of a plowed area nearby that kept us from having to risk getting stuck in the 16″ of hard packed snow that blanketed the entire lake. We guessed that the depth would be around 40′ deep.

The fishing began slow with a few yellow perch being the first guests coming through the hole. As darkness approached, the smelt showed up in force. At first, they were staying loyal to the bottom but after landing a few, they began to suspend higher and higher.

While the fishing was good, it wasn’t as good as when Mary and I went recently. The fish tonight were much more hesitant of coming right to the surface. They still bit hard we just couldn’t sight fish!


2-28-15 – Great Smelt Bite

Mary and I had to postpone our Valentine’s date due to weather issues but we finally made up for it. It was a cold night but with the Clam Bigfoot XL4000t and a Mr. Buddy heater, it was comfortable.

We hadn’t been smelt fishing together yet this winter and on this particular lake, our experience was limited. Regardless, we set up the shack after shoveling a foot of snow so we could have some smooth ice. It was still light out and there were no fish on the screen. but we had to start somewhere.

After setting up the Hydro Glow Fishing Light and rigging up our rods, the sky was dark and we started the first descent. As we neared bottom, flickers appeared and the night bite began. The fish were biting but stayed loyal to the bottom. The goal was to move them towards the surface so when we did hook up we tried to reel them in slowly so that the others would chase up.

We were able to move the fish up after only a short while, but any commotion nearby scattered them right back down. Even someone just shutting a car door ended the bite! Fortunately, they were aggressive enough to come back up with little effort.

Around 8, things changed for the better. Everyone settled in for the night and the fish came right up under the ice! We sight fished for the last couple hours before heading home. It was a great way to end the night


1-18-15 – Smelting At Night

After working at the Yankee Sportsman Classic in Essex the last two days, a night bite for smelt sounded ideal. We were on the ice and had the Clam Bigfoot XL4000t set up with in minutes of 8pm. With the Hydro Glow glowing bright it only took a few seconds for the smelt to stack up under us in 30 feet of water.

We sat in one spot all night with no shortage of fish at any point. They were cruising throughout the entire water column with the most active zone being 6-10 feet. You could also sight fish them just below the ice but they seemed to be missing the bait almost every time they went by no matter how hard they charged.

We were running small flasher jigs with with tiny jigs tied inline above. The bit was good on both smelt chunks and maggots. Getting them to bite on plastics didn’t go so well though. Dead sticking produced a steadier bite than jigging as well!

We also had a nice visit from the local warden. He came in after we had been there for a bit with his truck blacked out and night vision going. Glad to see that they are out after dark keeping people honest!

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3-9-14 – Some More Smelt

A buddy invited me to hit the big lake today in search of some lake trout. We were on the water and had our tip ups set up in the dark. After settling down for a bit we set up a shack that we could both fish out of. I wish I could say that we caught a ton of fish or even one but it was a great morning to say the least!

At any point when we dropped the camera down, there was at least one fish cruising the edge of what we could see. Quality ones too! Throughout the course of the morning. We had two opportunities but neither successfully hooked up. Probably the best part of the trip happened when we picked up to leave. With all the tip ups loaded we sat back in the shack to warm up. A quick flash right under our feet revealed an alewife being pursued by a 8-10 pound laker. We saw the fish several times before the alewife escaped up our into our hole. Although it was frustrating, we made the trek off the ice to head out to a different location that was loaded with bass and pike. We also had the opportunity to jig up panfish.

After setting up our tip ups again in shallower water, the jigging bite was good. Seeing 6, 7, or 8 bass in a hole at a time was common. Many times we would be catching crappie and bluegill while bass were inches from our bait! As dark approached we set up the Hydro Glow. The bite was slow but we had some decent sight fishing action. When things winded down, we headed our separate ways and I headed to another pond for some more smelt.


Arriving at the smelt grounds, I was greeted by several buddies of old and new. The fish were there and they were biting. The depth they were biting at constantly changed but it didn’t take long to know if they were active or not. Aggressive jigging seemed to be the key. The smelt were some of the biggest ones that I have seen outside of Lake Champlain!



3-8-14 – Team Fishing For Smelt

Mary and I went out with some friends after I got out of work today. Smelt were the target and we thought that it would be fun to have a little competition. We thought boys vs girls would be fair as Mary usually catches more than me. Once we found the right depth, we got to fishing. The counts stayed pretty close throughout the night but we (the boys) squeaked out a narrow victory.


2-15-14 – Valentine’s Smelting

While most people were out romancing their significant others on Valentine’s Day, I was at work. For a bit of redemption, my girlfriend Mary agreed to a Hydro Glow lit dinner on the ice chasing smelt. I got out of work a bit early so that we could be on the water before sunset. It was around 5 when we were set up in the shack with the Mr. Buddy heaters blazing.

It took three holes for us to find the mid 20’s depth that I was looking for and about 5 minutes with a submerged Hydro Glow to draw in 24 feet of fish. The first obstacle of the night was for Mary to learn the frustrations of hooking and then actually landing these tricky little buggers.

After I caught the first few, I agreed to let her try my spring bobber rod so that the bites were easier to detect. She quickly figured out how it was done and started to out fish me. I upgraded the single size 22 jig so that it would have a small spoon below for added weight. Before too long we were both bring in fish at a good pace.

The night ended when the wind started to pick up as we didn’t use the ice screws to secure the Clam hub shack down. While the night might not have been a typical date for most, Mary is excited to get back out!




1-21-14 – Cold Keeps Coming!

While much of my winter up to this point has been spent chasing panfish, with trout season now open, I can access some great bodies of water. The temperature today was never suppose to get above 0 so I knew that I needed a location that I could sit in one hole and catch fish. With the cold in the air, I was glad to have spent the night at work making it so that I didn’t feel like I had to be on the ice early! I decided to fish for smelt in deep water.

The bite was decent but I was having trouble with consistency due to brown trout and perch. In the past, I have fished there with tip ups and never had much for luck. Today seemed different though. I used my camera and found that the water was pretty murky and light disappeared about 12 feet down. I didn’t catch anything below that point all day. The majority of the smelt I caught were within 2 feet of the ice and were very willing to bite. Throughout the course of the day every 15-20 minutes I would have bigger fish come through and chase the smelt out. Mostly it was perch but the browns were cruising right under the ice.

I hooked up with 5 of the dozen browns I saw but didn’t land any because of my light line. The perch on the other hand were plentiful and chunky due to the smelt. Picking at the smelt was only possibly with a super small hook today. I used a size 18 jig for the better part of my trip.




1-20-14 – It’s Getting Cold

The temperature has been dropping the last few days and so far I have stuck it out but have had a tough go at it. Yesterday my buddy left the keys to my truck in the bed, under the hardside tonneau cover and somehow locked the tailgate. Out of cell service and miles from the nearest store, it took about 5 hours to get the situation resolved. Having to wait for assistance, we stayed close to the truck and made the most of it. During that time I was able to stick a few smelt and lakers while fishing shallow. By shallow I mean less than 3 feet of water. Probably the toughest part of the day was the numbers of lakers I hooked up with and wasn’t able to land. While I was gone trying to find a phone to use my rod ended up in the water and the reel froze up solid. With no access to a backup rod, I was trying to lift lakers with no drag. It was probably comical to the people watching me! The smelt were thick but the bite was tough. Not being able to trek out to my coordinates with the bucket of smelt sure was disappointing!