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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked up a couple coho Sunday morning off Port Sheldon. Not a great report, Marked huge bait clouds from 30 to 60 feet of water. Worked the area for 2 hours without a bump. Wandered out to 90 feet and pegged 2 clone coho in 10 min then nothing. Turned and hit the area 2 times with no more hits.
I came home to chop up the catch and was curious what they were eating. Much to my surprise the gut was filled with nothing but smelt! Is it possible that those huge bait balls were smelt or am I just being hopeful. Anyone else in the area checking stomach contents have comments?
 

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flyguy said:
I picked up a couple coho Sunday morning off Port Sheldon. Not a great report, Marked huge bait clouds from 30 to 60 feet of water. Worked the area for 2 hours without a bump. Wandered out to 90 feet and pegged 2 clone coho in 10 min then nothing. Turned and hit the area 2 times with no more hits.
I came home to chop up the catch and was curious what they were eating. Much to my surprise the gut was filled with nothing but smelt! Is it possible that those huge bait balls were smelt or am I just being hopeful. Anyone else in the area checking stomach contents have comments?
Huge clouds of any bait would be great. Smelt would be a real bonus!!
 

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The smelt on this side of the state were extinct this year. From what the locals tell me its the worse smelt season they have ever seen. Not good news. The alewives are down, the smelt are down, but the shiner population is booming.
 

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This past Saturday, I ran over some bait clouds in 80' of watter that covered my entire screen from 40' down. I have a 6" LCX18 and it litteraly was end to end. We wnet through it and picked up one king. Tried to find that pile again but to no avail. a few of our fish had alwive in them. Being somewhat new to fishing the lake what does a smelt look like compared to alwive?
 

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A smelt is long and skinny, like a rapala minnow and looks like a baby tarpon. An alewife has a fuller body like a shad or shad rap.

Also the emerald shiners are very prevalent in the warmer water, and I have seen them in a few fish earlier this spring. At first I thought they were smelt until I found some fresher ones to ID.
 

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The coho we picked up Saturday had an alewive in it's mouth. Didn't even notice it until I went to pick him up out of the cooler.
 

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Hey Tim ,
Smelt have TEETH and they don't digest out very quickly so if there was a question on them possibly being Emeralds - the teeth or lack thereof would show the difference , EH?
;)

RAS
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good point on the emeralds Tim. The fish in question were partially digested, but were smelt like in shape. They were definately not ales or shad. I did not look that closely for ID. The bait clouds were huge and plentiful. Between 30 and 60 ft of water I would estimate viewing 50 such graph marks in a 2 hour period, and I did not keep running over the same spot. The problem were there were no hooks in the area and we did not pick up a single strike in the area. I heard a couple of boats discussing the bait on the radio and one stated that they picked up a couple of fish but the action was not hot and heavy by any strech. It sounded like from the chatter that the bait has been around for a few days between Saugatuk, Holland and Pt Sheldon. In the same depth range. Seems like most I have talked to have either been doing fair at that 80-100 ft range or very deep (>250). Sounds like the better fishing has definately moved north though.
 

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My guess is that they could be cisco's, or also known as lake herring. They have the same basic body structure and do suspend in the water column, while smelt are usually more bottom oriented. They are basically a small whitefish but their mouth is not ventrally located like a whitefish, but is in the front like a smelt has.
I tried to post the pics but I can't, so try searching online for ciscos to see their similarities or go to fish.dnr.cornell.edu/nyfish/Salmonidae/cisco.html and I found a good pic there.
 

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wartfroggy said:
while smelt are usually more bottom oriented.
Smelt are actually considered a "pelagic" baitfish. They prefer deep water as they are light sensitive, but they are typically suspended above the bottom most of the time. They rise up in the water column over deep water at night to feed. Except during spawning times, smelt are generally found in 120+ FOW.

The bait you marked in 30-60 FOW could have been smelt, since they spawn in April, May and sometimes June, but my best guess would be Emeralds. They are making a big comeback in both Lk Huron and Lk Michigan due to the lack of large alewives in either lake.
 

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salmon_slayer06 said:
The smelt on this side of the state were extinct this year. From what the locals tell me its the worse smelt season they have ever seen. Not good news. The alewives are down, the smelt are down, but the shiner population is booming.
um, ok? alewives are down? you must trolling the wrong "spots" on the lake. right now its pretty easy to find some bait balls down south.
 

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Perch, Emeralds, Cisco's, whatever--my hope is that whatever they are, the salmon start eating them! That would be a great way to take some pressure off the alewife base a little.
 
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