By Tim Kowols
It has been easier to find smelt at local restaurants than in Lake Michigan in recent years. An April tradition of casting nets into the harbors in Algoma to bring home countless buckets full of fish had seemingly gone to the wayside. The drop in the population led angler and local physician Dr. Rob Anderson believe people under the age of 30 had no clue what smelt fishing entailed. With that in mind, Anderson says it was shocked when a light on a pier late at night last week led to one of the most successful nights of smelt fishing he had witnessed in nearly 25 years.
Anderson does not know why the smelt population has dwindled in recent years and cannot explain his recent late night haul, but studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, Purdue University, and the Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant program suggest invasive species like the zebra and quagga mussels have had a negative impact.