where did all the smelt go?

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where did all the smelt go?

Postby Professor_Leakey » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:32 pm

alright so this is a somewhat rambling post that may not interest a whole lot of you, but i find it interesting. i would love to hear any opinions or discussion of decline of fish numbers of any type: flounder, tuna, whatever...but my topic is more towards the bottom of the food chain, that purveyor of deliciousness, the smelt.

i have been going smelt fishing each late summer/early fall for many years, and also have been hitting the ice shacks in maine every winter over the past 5 or 6 years. smelt fishing has a lot of nostalgia attached to it for me, always liked seeing the old timers lined up along the piers filling buckets down in place like hull, scituate, and plymouth. a lot has changed since then.

up until 2 years ago, the handful of remaining smelt fishermen in mass did pretty well. i would always come home with plenty for the fryer and the freezer. trips to maine would fill buckets.

then, in the past 2 years, numbers have seemed to divebomb. a trip last week to maine with 4 guys, we caught a couple dozen altogether, and that was our best trip in 3 years. not very long ago, people would go and catch them by the 100s. this past september in mass, i went a couple times a week but only caught 2 or 3 total. some people want to blame it on all the snapper blues that were around, but i just dont buy it. other people are saying it is seals, or global warming...and of course the cormorants. whatever it is, it's a shame.

i was up in maine at baker's smelt camp last week and there was a biologist there asking questions about catches. he said he was doing research for an article for the bangor news because of the decline in numbers. here is the article:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Maine_smelt_camps_having_bad_season_.html?pagenum=%202
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Re: where did all the smelt go?

Postby MIKE J. » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:44 pm

There was a meeting tonight in Quincy discussion this very same topic. The lack of smelt and other forage fish is an indicator something is wrong. Hopefully they will recover. I will be checking the spawning beds next month to see what the numbers are. Hopefully the stream bottom is golden with eggs.
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Re: where did all the smelt go?

Postby Professor_Leakey » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:02 am

Mike, let me know if you hear anything about what was discussed at the meeting in Quincy. Also about what you see at the spawning areas. I am glad to hear that biologists are aware of this and looking into it. It seems to me the smelts' range is pushing farther and farther north, as people are still catching them in large numbers around PEI. I am curious to hear about any sort of domino effect their loss could cause here. Scary to hear of a major source of forage disappearing.
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Re: where did all the smelt go?

Postby Sshorearcher » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:26 am

Leakey: Here is a link to the gulf of maine regional conservation plan with a lot of info, history, etc. Smelt situation currently is grim. I grew up fishing for them each fall as well.

http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/marine/ ... n_Plan.pdf
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