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January 24, 2014

Outdoors: Ice fishing for smelt is a winter staple

Ice fishing for smelt in Maine is one of my favorite winter get-a-ways. You rent a shanty, fire up the wood stove, catch a few smelt, cook them in a cast iron frying pan, and relax with your favorite libation. What’s more, the camps provide everything you need including advice if you are a novice.

On Monday I spoke with Verna at Bakers Smelt Camps (207-582-4257) on the Kennebec River located at 89 Smith Town Road in Pittston, Me. She has 45 camps lining the river on very solid ice. In fact, the coming cold weather will thicken what is already there.

“The fishing has been a little slow lately,” she said. “Some of the camps have been doing okay, but it should pick up with this change in temperature.”

Her camps rent out for $11 a person, half off for children 12 and under. It is $44 for a four-man camp. If you have four kids and two adults it is cheaper to just rent a camp. The fees include all the wood for the stove, but bait is $3 a bucket for sandworms.

The Worthing Camps (207-582-3199) located at 145 Winter Street in Randolph, Me is also on the Kennebec River. They have 65 shanties along the river They charge $25 dollars for two to a camp, $35 for three, and $45 for four. This fee includes bait and wood for the stove. The fishing has been slow here as well, but the word from them is that they expect this cold snap to heat up the fishing. They had a few black backs (fresh smelt to the river) show up on Sunday night, so they think there is a run starting.

The word I got from the fellow on the phone from Jim’s Camps (207-666-3049) at 4 Bay Road in Bowdinham, Me. is that although the fishing has not been hot, they expect it to pick up shortly.

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