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The BuzzardsBayBruin

Smelt Fishing

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Hey guys, I remember catching smelt off the docks in local marinas around nov-dec when I was younger with my father. I tried this past winter using the same methods and caught nothing. So I asked around and everyone has told me to go up to maine. Where do I go? How is it done up there? I hear its through the ice, I cant imagine you use traps do you?

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There are quite a few smelting camps in Maine. You can google it. multiple lines, a piece of bloodworm and a good tide. Oh yeah, good whiskey.


There is hardly any smelt fishing information on the Internet so I decided to add some. Smelts do not frequent Massachusetts or New Hampshire consistently to support the smelt shack business so the best fishing is in Maine.

Scroll down to view a list of smelt shack facilities:

Bowdoinham, Maine

  • Jim's

    Tel# 207-666-3049

  • Leighton's

    Tel# (Camp) 207- 666-5551

    Tel# (H) 207-737-2646

  • River Bend

    Tel# 207-666-5945

Here are directions from one of my visitors to where you can set up your own smelt shack in Bowdoinham, Maine at no charge:


Route 295 North


The Bowdoinham exit

Turn right at the stop sign

Continue until you get to the center of town

Continue down a steepish hill an come to a stop sign

Turn left (if you need to stop at a store you'll pass one right there)

Continue to railroad tracks on the right

Continue up a small hill and take that right

Continue to the end and you'll see the river

Chubby Leighton smelt camp will be on the left

Continue past Chubby Leighton smelt camp and on the right is a public boat launch

You can put a smelt shack right on the river

Dresden, Maine

  • James Eddy

    Tel# 207-737-2596

  • Purdy's

    Tel# 207-737-8826 or 207-737-4553

    Tel# (Cell) 207-458-9474

  • Sonny's

    Tel# 207-737-8115

Pittston, Maine
  • Baker's

    Tel# 207-582-4257

Rt. 9 Randolph, Maine
  • Worthing's

    Tel# 207-582-3199

Topsham, Maine

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Everything is supplied for you too,just show up.I've found that the best fishing is when they first put the shacks out the ice,you can fill a 5 gallon bucket pretty easily when you hit it right.


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Smelt can still be taken by fishing long cane poles from various piers and bridges in New Hampshire BEFORE ice forms, through the fall into December. Contact biologists Doug Grout or Cheri Patterson at the Durham NH Fish and Game office for suggested smelt tips on the coast; 603-868-1095.

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Up here we have the smelt. look on ice shanty and read about what camps are hot when you want to go, bring lots of beer, a designated driver and some food to cook on the stove and be ready for a good time. Also, remember it is tradition that you must bite the head off the 1st smelt caught. Smeltin doesn't start really untill jan/feb though

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Smelting up here is great. Dont use the house lines get a small jig rod with a sabiki and you will do better. Smelt uasually start running on the Kenne around Dec and stay to like april. Putting a shack out this year. My and my buddy are making starting next weekend !!!

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Does anyone know anything about catching smelt from docks in the Portland area in the fall before the ice forms? I always hear about people doing that in NH and MA, so I would think it would work in Maine too, but I never hear about people doing it.


Also, Punisher, what type of sabiki do you recommend for winter fishing? I would assume the smaller the better?

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