Product name: Atlantic smelts
Scientific name: Hypomesus olidus
Distributor: AC Coverts
Method: Jig Caught
Location: Northern NB
Smelts are a family of small fish, the Osmeridae, found in Atlantic and Pacific waters. Smelts are an important winter catch in the saltwater mouths of rivers in New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Fishermen would historically go to customary locations over the ice using horses and sleighs. Today, fishers use snow mobiles to guide their box nets. The fish did not command a high price on the market but nevertheless remains an important source of supplemental income to the smaller fishing towns where they are caught.
In present day, smelts are fished both commercially using nets at sea, and for recreation by hand-netting them or spearing or angling them through holes in river ice. They are often the target fish of small ‘fishing shack’ villages that spring up along frozen rivers.
Smelts are a very versatile, small, white fish. While they do not pack a lot of flavour on their own, they can be used in an abundance of dishes.
Health benefits + nutrition facts:
Smelt fish are rich sources of phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids, and they have moderate levels of copper, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. Additionally, these fish offer various B vitamins and a significant level of protein, nearly 30% of your daily requirement in a 3-ounce serving. With low levels of calories and saturated fat, smelts are a great addition to your diet.
Smelts are a staple food source for many larger species of fish, and therefore occupy a lower trophic level. By consuming them directly, as opposed to consuming higher trophic level species, such as striped bass and salmon, we are decreasing our environmental footprint, and obtaining energy and protein more effectively! For more information about the benefits of eating species lower on the food chain, check out this blog article!
Ways to prepare recipes/recommendations: