NAME: Rainbow Smelt
OTHER NAMES: American Smelt, leefish, frostfish
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Osmerus Mordax
DISTINCT IDENTIFICATION MARKS: Rainbow Smelt usually have an olive green colour along their back. If in freshwater though their backs can almost appear black. The sides of a Rainbow smelt can have purple blue and pink colouration giving it its name of Rainbow Smelt. The bottom of the fish is a lighter, almost silver colour.
The Rainbow Smelt also has a large mouth for its size, a protruding lower jaw and fang like teeth.
Another distinct characteristic of the fish is the tail fin (caudal) is significantly forked.
SIZE: In the Miramichi area you will generally find the smelt to be around the size of 13.9cm (5.3in) at 2 years old. By the time they reach 5 years old they can be 20.6cm (8.1in) long. If water temperature and food supply is ideal for Smelt growth they can reach 35.6 (14in) long.
MALE OR FEMALE: Female smelt grow faster and bigger than the male.
WATER PREFERENCE: The smelt prefer temperatures of around 6 – 10 degrees Celsius
PLACE OF ORIGIN: The Rainbow smelt’s native waters run from the Labrador region all along the eastern seaboard of Canada and down to the coasts of New Jersey.
INITIAL ARRIVAL TO NOVA SCOTIA: Check note above.
WORLD RECORD: Do you know? Let us know! We’d greatly appreciate it.
BEST TIME TO FISH FOR: Anytime of the day, but they will come closer to the surface during the night for feeding.
BEST LURES/BAIT TO USE: A number of things can be used for catching smelt. Such as worms, small pieces of other fish (even other smelt). Some people like to use anchovies as well. If looking for something though you can store in your tackle box and not worry about going bad; small spoons and spinners will work too. If you have a colourful multihook rig that you may have used for mackerel you can use it to catch rainbow smelt as well.
TASTE: When first caught Rainbow smelt have a faint cucumber smell to them. They should be stored immediately in ice to ensure the fresh tender taste. This fish is low in fat, high in protein and vitamins. A tasty fish and as advised by the Maine Dept. Of Health and Human Services; it is a great fish for pregnant women. As it is low in mercury and high in essential fatty acids.
SEASON FOR FISHING: People fish smelt usually during the time of year when the water is cooler (spring, fall, winter). They tend to travel in schools, and can be found close to shore, and in places with eel grass. They will go into deep water during the day to hide, and can be found in depths up to 55.5 metres (182 feet).