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Charlie Gloff was a Commercial Fisherman in Dunkirk, NY. He told me that the smelt became so heavy in the 1950's that his whitefish gill nets were so numerous that it was next to impossible to remove them. The price for whitefish then was high but the smelt with their tiny teeth fouled his large mesh nets. Eventually all the whitefish, ciscoes, blue pike and lake trout of the colder summer waters disappeared. The smelt consumed all the fry and small and little reproducing fish that by the 1960's Lake Erie was considered a dead lake. I t was not dead, just full of the wrong fish. Sport fishing interests were using commercial fishing for the sport fishing demise. Government agencies failed to properly report conditions possibly anticipating the recovery of sport fishing license revenues. The Ontario Commercial Fishing Groups began to harvest  the smelt masses by converting their boats to trawlers by 1965. The smelt were mainly packed in ice and airlifted to Asian markets with their massive populations from the Detroit Airport. Shortly after the smelt harvesting began in Lake Erie the sport fishing numbers returned and the stocking of trout and salmon of survival size began and sport fishing helped with another control of the smelt population. I saw a tawler go out with a two man crew in March at dawn and return with the decks full of smelt at ten AM. the ten ton load of fish were paid ten cents a pound then. A fair day's pay then.

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Has anyone heard of a run yet this year?

thanks

john

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I think it's been done. They probably spawned where ever they could find that 41-43 temp whether in the river, creeks or lake shore line. Another screwy year.

 

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