I challenge you to find a better picture that encapsulates spring in Duluth. It was a wet, dreary, gloomy, foggy weekend near Lake Superior. That didn't stop people from taking advantage of the smelt run.

People showed up to the Lift Bridge with buckets and nets, dipping in to scoop up some fresh smelt. The rainbow smelt are silver-colored fish between 6 and 9 inches long. According to the DNR, they are actually an exotic species to Lake Superior. They accidentally spread across the Great Lakes after they escaped from an inland Michigan lake. Smelt started showing up in Lake Superior in 1946. Sea Lampreys, lake trout, and Pacific salmon have caused smelt numbers to decline over the years.

Most people like their smelt breaded and fried, and many consider it a delicacy. It's also a food that can bring back fond memories of childhood for some.

Deep fried Smelt fish with many eggs, Close up
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Still, people thought this year was pretty good according to comments on Facebook. There wasn't "a ton" of smelt being caught, but it was steady catching with each dip. There's no limit for smelt, so you can keep as much as you can carry, however there are some regulations. You need a fishing license.

  • You need a fishing license.
  • You may not use a flashlight, or other artificial light to locate or attract smelt.
  • You must kill your smelt at the stream.  It is unlawful to transport or possess live smelt. This is to prevent the spread of disease and smelt introduction to inland waters.
  • Any fish netted other than smelt must immediately be returned to the water.
  • Dip nets or seines may not be more than 25 feet long or 4 feet deep.
Courtesy Of Schauer Photo images
Courtesy Of Schauer Photo images

These fishermen were on the south pier off of the lift bridge. To the right you can see the laker Great Republic leaving port. It had unloaded stone at Graymont and was headed to Two Harbors. Special thanks to David Schauer for allowing us to share these awesome photos with you.

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