Monday, April 12, 2010

Smelt belt

At this time of year in Chicago, it's not uncommon to see men and women in Carhartt coveralls huddled around barrel fires. And not just under the El tracks near Wilson.

It's smelt season, which means that anglers trek to the lakefront harbors for evening fishing. Smelt, introduced in the 20th century, spawn on the southeast shores of Lake Michigan each spring. The smelt harvest used to be a much bigger event--now even one or two fish in the net is considered a success.

On Saturday evening, several groups of anglers had set up shop at Montrose Harbor. Many prepared as if tailgating for a football game--lawn chairs, grills, picnic tables and portable plastic-sided outhouses. Anglers rig up contraptions--some lashed to their cars--that help to lower, or dip, nets into the water. They use a pulley system to bring the nets up and the little silver fish on shore.


Karla said...

I have fond memories of eating fresh caught smelt when I was growing up. They were very tasty! We didn't catch them ourselves but purchased them locally when they were "running" or in season. I remember they were fried with their heads on and we ate the whole fish. I also have some latent memory of having to clean them, which really wasn't so they're small fish.

長卉lisettec_buswell0606 said...
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黎仁南 said...
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Erika2005Lincoln said...

Smelt always make me think of my father. I have a memory of him enjoying them. Come to the MN State Fair -- you can get smelt on a stick!