Smelt Posts

Minnesota Historia: The Magic of Smelting

Explore Minnesota’s love affair with smelt, the shimmering silver fish that’s easy to catch and fun to eat. Now that Lake Superior’s smelt population is in decline, an annual parade in downtown Duluth keeps that love alive.

Minnesota Historia is a PBS North web series dedicated to Minnesota’s quirky past. It is hosted by Hailey Eidenschink and produced/edited/written by Mike Scholtz.

Selective Focus: Run, Smelt, Run!

Select Instagram photos from the Run, Smelt, Run! Parade and Party.

Finding Minnesota: Smelt Fishing on Lake Superior

WCCO-TV‘s Rachel Slavik reports from the mouth of the Amnicon River on Lake Superior during the 2016 smelt run. Apologies for whatever commercial precedes the video.

The Piedmont Smelt Incident

Aside from the occasional monster wave, there is no finer display of the raw and natural violence of her majesty’s beauty than the Lake Superior Cyclone. Air is churning over the water’s surface in a melee of suction and force that would clean the beard on a Lumbersexual or the balls off a beaver. They were visible near Stoney Point on New Years day of 2010 where you could see them toward Wisconsin pulling through gravity and time, swaying in the distance of a sunny cold afternoon. 

Then I heard this fishy tale from a neighbor:

Coming home from kindergarten in about the spring of 1960, after school and dressed in his spacesuit rain gear, he sees funnel clouds over the lake. As the storm passes and nearing home he notices on the lawn a patch of small silver fish, then another yard with more of them, telling his dad who doesn’t believe him a tornado could siphon a school of smelt off the lake into the hills of old Piedmont.

Happy Smelting

Smelter: John Finkle
Photographer: Chelsea Froemke

Smelting posts from years past:
Where is the best place to eat smelt? (2012)
Duluth Smelting (2011)
Remember the glory days of smelting? (2010)

Magic Smelt Workshops

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The smelt are coming!

The Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe is pleased to announce the opening of our 2013 Smelt Run Puppet Parade workshop, at 134 W. 1st St, between Pineapple Arts and Bella Flora!

Sea creature proclaims smelt cometh

I saw a commercial being made for the upcoming Smelt Festival while walking in Canal Park today. The sea creature character was booming out a pretty funny pronouncement from the Smelt Queen promising puppetry, puppet making and smelt-y fun in exchange for funding.

It’s stuff like this that makes me love this town.

Photo from the “Run, Smelt, Run!” Parade


More on Smelt

Smelting season is here once again. I am writing a piece on this tradition for UMD’s Lake Voice and am wondering if anyone has photos of themselves smelting they would like to submit for use in my story. Thanks!

The Smelt shall rise again!

For anyone who has ever seen (or heard of) the May Day Parade in Minneapolis and wondered why we don’t have anything of the sort in Duluth, do we have some news for you!

The Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe formed in 2011. At the nucleus are newish Duluthian Jim Ouray, bringing 30 years of experience with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater (Minneapolis) and local musician and visual artist Anton Jimenez-Kloeckl. They’ve offered free stilt-walking and mask-making classes and are presently holding costume and puppet production workshops which will culminate in the Run, Smelt, Run! Parade and Party on April 22.

Where is the best place to eat smelt?

The spring smelt run should be not too far off.  I was wondering where people thought the best place to get the golden fish fries were in the area?  I have heard that most places that serve them don’t get them from local sources.  Any smelt aficionados out there?

Duluth Smelting

Rick LeBlanc of Hermantown surpassed tradition by biting the head off not just his first smelt, but about two dozen others, too, at the Lester River on May 5, 1983. (Duluth News-Tribune file photo)

At this time of year, 20 or 30+ years ago, the hot topic in Duluth and Superior would have been the status of the smelt run.

Duluth’s mostly-vanished smelting tradition has been discussed on Perfect Duluth Day at least once before. It’s been a frequently requested item for the News Tribune Attic to cover.

So, by popular demand, the latest post in the News Tribune Attic includes a bunch of photos and a couple contemporary accounts of smelting in Duluth in the early 1980s. Enjoy!

Remember the glory days of smelting?

They weren’t that great (I had to clean them as a kid!). I used to think the smelts were planted in Lake Superior as a food for the fishery, not so.

The Mystery of the Missing Smelt