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Dick Ellis Blog:
5/21/2020
Publisher’s Note: As referenced in the May-June 2020 print issue of On Wisconsin Outdoors, the Ellis column Memorial Day-Trading it all… directs the reader to this website for stories of Americans in battle during World War II and Vietnam.  Posted in the April 30 Ellis Blogs on this website Tanks in a Mine Field is the eye witness story of 709th Tank Battalion gunner John “Mike” Kunnen during the bloody battle of t...
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Smelt Report for April 11, 2014

Because of our harsh winter here in the northland, the ice has not yet broken up on Chequamegon Bay so the smelt have not started spawning. The “smelt run” usually starts around the third week in April shortly after ice-out on the bay and lasts only 12-14 days.

Visitors and locals alike love the short but sweet smelt season on Chequamegon Bay. The timing of the run normally peaks just after the ice leaves the bay. Contrary to what some folks may have heard, the smelt do not run under the ice, according to seasoned fishing guide Roger LaPenter of Anglers All in Ashland. “They have to have open water to spawn.”

Typically, the smelt run is seen first in the Xcel Energy power plant’s “hot pond” on the Ashland side of the bay. Keep checking back for updates!

Important smelting rules and regulations from the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

  • Non-residents NEED a valid Wisconsin non-resident fishing license to harvest smelt. (These can be obtained at any licensing agent such as Walmart or the DNR building.)
  • Wisconsin residents do NOT need a fishing license to harvest smelt.
  • Residents CAN sell the smelt.
  • Non-residents CANNOT sell the smelt.
  • The smelt CANNOT be kept alive. The water must be emptied out of the buckets before leaving the beach.
  • Do NOT transport or use live smelt for bait.
  • ALL other fish including suckers CANNOT be kept. They must immediately be let go.

Dip Nets: Not exceeding 8 feet in diameter or 8 feet square, may be used only from April 1 to May 25 for taking smelt in Lake Superior and all streams flowing into Lake Superior in Bayfield, Ashland, Iron counties and the Brule River in Douglas County from a point beginning at their mouths and extending inland for a distance of one-half mile measured in a straight line. In Douglas County, smelt may also be taken on Bear Creek, Bluff Creek, Nemadji River, the St. Louis River and the other non-trout streams. In the waters of Ashland County, smelt may also be taken from streams not inhabited by trout, or on streams where active sea lamprey control structures are located.

Seines: Not more than 75 feet in length and not more than 6 feet in depth may be used from April 1 to May 25 for taking smelt in Lake Superior, St. Louis Bay, Superior Bay, Allouez Bay and from the mouth of the St. Louis River upstream to the North 28th Street landing in Douglas County.

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