Fortune Fish & Gourmet

Seafood & Gourmet Products

Finfish

Smelt

American Smelt are small, silvery herring-like fish nicknamed the candlefish. Smelt are so fatty that Native Americans used them for making candles. When dried, placed upright, and lit, the fish would burn from end to end. Their color is olive to pale green with a broad silver strip on its side. Some Smelt migrate to rivers from the sea for breeding, while others live entirely in freshwater. Smelt has a oily, mild taste and a soft texture. The 6-10 inch fish has an odor and flavor like freshly cut cucumber. Freshwater Smelt are considered less oily than saltwater Smelt. Smelt are usually eaten whole- including head, bones, and all. The major Smelt runs are in the northeast and eastern Canada. Smelt are caught by gillnets as they migrate to spawn in rivers or close to shore. They are also box-netted in the winter through holes in the ice. In the Great Lakes Smelt are mostly caught by trawl.