Spring Smelt Run


Nate sitting on a rock with a smelt net.

Nate was testing the waters during civil twilight zone to see if they were starting.

Spring in Thunder Bay holds a different kind of Fishing. With Ice still on many lakes some anglers get anxious, unable to cast away. But for thoes who know the rivers, it holds many other opportunities. This late Sunday (May the 3rd) we found ourselves out for Steelhead. The Beautiful Rainbow Trout are moving up the rapids of The rivers to spawn. My first attempt at them all I can say was I enjoyed watching the fellows around me wheel up the fish. Well, at least that way I knew they were running.


Later that night I found my self on the banks of the current river with a smelt net. We were the first on the shore just 30 mins before sunset to get a decent spot. My self, John, and Kirsti, Kyla and Nate were all geared up and ready to actually slay some fish.  As the sun set lower and lower it was time for them to start to run. Smelts are universal fish in the way they can be used for a fish fry or for bait, and being a small fish they hide out until dark before they run up the river.

Kirsti Harris holding smelts

Kirsti Harris holding Smelts with Kyla L. A good night of Smelting


Every year hundreds of people go out around the rivers here to pull out Smelts during the run. We started a few test nets to see if they are running and about an hour after civil twilight the really started to peak. Each net would come up with a dozen or so fish and while we were nearly done by 11, many people were just showing up. In our Group of 5, we took turns netting and emptying it. Within an hour we had a few hundred of these little fish in a cooler.

By the time we left, there were close to 50 people around us all doing the same thing. The small hour or so wait watching the sun and hanging out with friends was more then worth being the first to leave with a bucket full. Now the real fun begins, Fish Fry or Fishing?

Thunder Bay's Current River at spring time during Smelt Run

The Fast moving waters of the Current River in early spring