2020 Land of Nipigon Adventure Guide:
Printed: $10 +shipping
Seasonal Fishing Guide
Fish Guiding Services
Places to Fish
Land of Nipigon Travelers Map
GPS Enabled Smartmap (Requires Avenza Offline Map App) PDF downloadable Version of the Land of Nipigon. Complete with fishing locations, things to do, things to see.
Nipigon area Fishing Guidebook
Comprehensive guidebook for fishing in the region. Includes Maps, species information, advice and locations. Available through Northwest Ontario Outdoors.
Land of Nipigon Fishes
Smelt were introduced from the east coast to Lake Superior as a food source for the Lake Trout and other predatory species of the lake in the 1900’s. Rainbow smelt are considered an invasive species although they have naturalized to the Great Lakes system and locally to Lake Superior, the Nipigon River and Lake Nipigon. Usage or possession of live or dead smelt as bait outside these bodies of water is prohibited.
Smelt in their natural environment spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater rivers to spawn in early spring. Lake Superior has taken the place of the ocean and alot of the smaller and larger rivers off of Lake Superior have a spring run of smelts.
Typically in Northwest Ontario they spawn in the rivers mid April to Mid May depending on location. Thunder Bay will have smelts, then about a week later Jesse Lake/Nipigon area and a week or so after that Lake Nipigon. Its all decided by water temperature.
“Smelting” as it is known, is done at night , in the dark around the cold rivers, creeks and streams that flow into Lake Superior using a fine mesh dip net use to scoop the fish out of the river as they work their way upstream.
Spawning smelt will try to avoid light and their sole purpose is to survive and move upstream.
Tips for smelting
Start the dip netting upstream and slightly faster than the current swoop downstream near the bottom of the river.
Avoid shining the light into the water as it will spook them. I use this as an advantage as other people shining their lights on the other side of the river will push the smelt to the dark side where I am dip netting.
Boots or chest waders are needed.
Look for deeper, slower water where the smelt will concentrate.
So where do you find smelt?
Little Gravel River, Cypress River, North Trout Creek (Red Rock), The Creeks into Jesse Lake of Cameron falls road, Mazukama Creek, Jackpine River, Current River Thunderbay, – to name a few. Pretty much any creek, river or stream off of Lake Superior will have a smelt run.
What can you do with smelt?
- Fry them up in a frying pan (bone and all)
- Deep fried
- Freeze some whole for bait