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It’s smelt fishing season for Gander Bay residents


GANDER BAY, NL - Perched on a salt beef bucket with ladle in hand, Bax Russell clears the slob ice from a previously-bored hole and lowers a baited hook into the chilly water below his feet.

The smelts, a small salt and fresh water species found in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, have arrived and the Gander resident made the trip to the George’s Point causeway on Wednesday to try for a few.

He waits a minute, gives a jig or two and . . . nothing.

“The water is low,” he surmises. “When it comes back up, the fishing should get better.”

But it didn’t really bother the 67-year-old as he was in good company. Out on the bay with him were Rick Matchem, also of Gander, and old Twllingate friends Ned Clarke and Stacey Rogers.

Sharing a few laughs while waiting for the tide to rise, the friends catch up with what’s happening in each others’  lives, the news from their respective communities and share stories about past fishing excursions, both bountiful and poor.

“You got to have patience,” said Russell. “I went to Square Pond one time in March, close to 11 hours on the ice and I never got a bite, but it was still better than being in the house sat down in front of the T.V.”

 

The smelts, a small salt and fresh water species found in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, have arrived and the Gander resident made the trip to the George’s Point causeway on Wednesday to try for a few.

He waits a minute, gives a jig or two and . . . nothing.

“The water is low,” he surmises. “When it comes back up, the fishing should get better.”

But it didn’t really bother the 67-year-old as he was in good company. Out on the bay with him were Rick Matchem, also of Gander, and old Twllingate friends Ned Clarke and Stacey Rogers.

Sharing a few laughs while waiting for the tide to rise, the friends catch up with what’s happening in each others’  lives, the news from their respective communities and share stories about past fishing excursions, both bountiful and poor.

“You got to have patience,” said Russell. “I went to Square Pond one time in March, close to 11 hours on the ice and I never got a bite, but it was still better than being in the house sat down in front of the T.V.”

 

Plentiful fish

While the smelts remained elusive on Jan. 11, Russell said this year has seen the best fishing in the area for some time.

He should know.

He’s been dropping a line at George’s Point for the past 10 to 15 years.

In five trips over the last two weeks he had caught approximately 800 white fish; most of which he’s given away.

“It’s the most plentiful I’ve seen it,” Russell said. “They’re a fair size too, about the size of small herring, eight to 12 inches for sure.”

Shifting the conversation to his Twillingate friend, he asks, “How long you been smeltin’ Ned?”

Lowering his hand to his knee, the 76-year-old replies, “Since I was this high.”

“And I don’t intend on giving it up anytime soon either, suppose they got to haul me out on the ice in a fish pan.”

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