Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

April 5, 2013

Bob Gwizdz: Don't overthink smelt fishing

HIGGINS LAKE — Fishing may be considered a rather low-brow pastime by those poor souls who do not have enough sense to appreciate it, but it is actually an intellectual pursuit. You start out with questions — Where are they and how do I catch ‘em? — Then you think your way toward solutions.

But it is entirely possible to overthink things. And I realized as much on a recent outing here targeting smelt.

As many know, fishing for smelt through the ice is an unusual but certainly enjoyable pastime, one I’ve tried to experience at least once every winter. This time, I brought my favorite ice-fishing rig — a whippy-tipped rod with a spinning reel spooled with ½-pound test nylon sewing thread — certain that I had it figured out.

Smelt are open-water (pelagic, in fisheries biology-speak) that are native to saltwater but often head up rivers to spawn. They have been stocked in a number of inland lakes — largely to serve as forage for bigger game fish, such as lake trout — and have produced an unusual fishery for ice anglers.

My thought process was simple — these tiny finsters eat tiny food items and down-sizing the gear seemed appropriate. The ultra-light line couldn’t hurt in the lake’s clear water and the soft tip on my rod would allow me to detect the almost imperceptible bite.

So far so good. But when I took my place in the shanty aside my partner Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Tom Goniea — right next to a shanty occupied by recently retired DNR fisheries biologist Steve Sendek — I soon found out I was ill equipped. While both Goniea and Sendek were spanking them, I was missing them.

I had no trouble detecting the bite, but when I struck, I mostly missed, or the critter escaped as I reeled it up. I soon figured it out — the whippy tip and light line didn’t give me enough purchase to drive the hook home on the hard-mouthed little fish. And despite the fact that this rod serves me well when fishing for other diminutive panfish — i.e. bluegills and crappies — it wasn’t working for smelt.

Text Only

Auto Racing News
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Facebook Is Officially A Mobile Company 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter