Smelts are a family of small fish, that are also known as freshwater smelts or typical smelts. Some smelt species are common in the Great Lakes, where they run in large schools along the saltwater coastline during spring migration to their spawning streams. Smelts usually grow between 20 cm – 70 cm. Smelts are a food source for many fish, including salmon, striped bass, and lake trout.
Around the Great Lakes, “smelt dipping” is a common group sport in the early spring and when stream waters reach around 4 °C. Fish are spotted using a flashlight or headlamp and scooped out of the water using a dip net made of nylon or metal mesh.