Foyle River Smelts

miramichi

Active member
Messages
1,986
Reaction score
9
I saw this link today about Foyle River, Ireland smelts. I found it interesting that they would just show up in 1973 - if they were introduced by the government it doesn't say so - but their population has increased to what the article says is important levels.

Essentially all of the New Brunswick rivers, and especially the Miramichi, have large populations of smelts - or it was large until the striped bass population blew up - and they are a great food source for people as well as Atlantic salmon. A plate of fried smelts is as delicious a meal as anything with fins. Most important, though, is that the smelts come up out of Miramichi Bay into the lower parts of the river to spawn just as the heart of the kelt run is heading back to sea. In years when the smelt run is good - which historically was most years - the outgoing kelts would feed on smelts before going back to sea, and it was thought to be a key step in their rebuilding to bright fish.

I read that the Foyle system salmon run is largely made up of grilse, and if the expanding smelt population is helping the kelts recover into larger fish?
 

Jockiescott

Well-known member
Messages
10,793
Reaction score
6,764
I fish the Foyle system and the mouth of my river is just below the power station mentioned.

I have never heard of anyone eating smelts and would doubt that many would know they were there.

My river would be a grilse river now as the Autumn runs have all but vanished. We used to get massive runs of very skinny grilse but as numbers have declined, the grilse that do return are looking plumper.

As for the size of multiple returners? I'm not really sure. A 10lb fish is still a big one for the Faughan. You do occasionally here of fish in the high teens but they are very rare.

I'm not sure how much the smelt population is helping.
 

GeeBee

Active member
Messages
609
Reaction score
196
I have never heard of anyone eating smelts and would doubt that many would know they were there.

In England they used to eat whitebait - fried, whole, and eaten including the bones. in the US its very popular to fish for them in early spring and eat them the same way. I think they do in Italy and Greece too. often called sprats - they are YoY herring.

they should be good for all marine species - sea trout, salmon and brown trout. they are an oily fish very high in protein.

in Maine and other New England states, restoration of the herring and smelt runs by dam removal is seen as key to the recovery of Atlantic Salmon and Striped Bass stocks.

its quite nice as a starter with lemon juice.
 

FaughanPurple

Well-known member
Messages
8,467
Reaction score
1,077
Location
Belfast/Derry
Probably more beneficial to the Bass or migratory trout and various other fish species and predator populations feeding in Lough than the Salmon. The Bass fishing is decent I'm told if you know the marks and the Trout run is doing ok at the moment too...
 

GeeBee

Active member
Messages
609
Reaction score
196
Probably more beneficial to the Bass or migratory trout and various other fish species and predator populations feeding in Lough than the Salmon.

yes, i would think so. though the presence of the smelt allows the smolts to blend in on the way down to the sea and the kelts may feed on them after spawning.
 
Top