The smelt camps are open and the fishing has been fairly good. Like always, it can be a bit unpredictable due to the influence of tides, weather and moon phase. However, this fishing can be a lot of fun, especially for families.
The camps are hauled out onto the ice and can be very comfortable even in the toughest weather. They provide heat, light and fishing equipment. The gear and bait are available from the owners. Pack a lunch and take the kids on an inexpensive outdoor adventure. You don't have to be an expert as the owners of the camps will tell you what to do. Most importantly, smelt are great to eat!
Where to go for smelt
The Kennebec River in Maine that flows into Merrymeeting Bay is a popular spot for smelt fishing. There are eight different commercial camp operations on this river alone. The good news is that you can have fun at every one of them.
The biggest operation is Worthings (207-582-3199) with a total of 83 camps! Located at 145 Walter Street in Randolph, its costs vary on the size of the camp rented from $25 for a two-person shack to $65 for a 6-person one. All bait is included in the price.
Baker's (207-582-4257) is second with 38 camps in operation at 89 Smith Town Road in Pittston. The James's Eddy camps (207-737-2596) at 426 Middle Road off route 127 in Dresden features 30 camps. It costs $14 a person plus $3 for bait. River Bend (207-666-5945) located off route 24 at 24 Wallentine Road in Bowdoinham has 30 camps as well. The cost here is $15 including bait.
Fishing for smelt is not complicated. As they run up the river they have to go by these camps on the ice. However, the bite can depend on a number of environmental factors mentioned above. Some days you fill the bucket other days it can be slow.