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Mar 7, 2009 09:10 AM

Fresh Smelts--have they dissappeared from New England?

I'm very fond of pan fried smelts. But these days I never see local smelts on menus or in the grocery stores or fish markets (except frozen from Canada). Shouldn't they be in season? Where have they gone? I'm in Southern New Hampshire, but travel frequently to Boston. and with less frequncy as far south as Providence as far east as Portland. Anybody know where fresh local smelts are available these days?

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  1. I get them at a supermarket named Hannaford's. It is based on the Portland, Maine area, but has stores all over NH.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rabbijohn

      i haven't been shopping at hannaford as much lately, having converted to market basket a few years back. i'll have to check it out. thanks for the tip. have you noticed if what hannaford carries is "fresh" or "previously frozen"?

    2. It is very easy to net smelt on nights w/ a full moon like tonight. A gallon of smelt per person per day.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Passadumkeg

        You can get them very fresh and local, and without hipboots and nets, at Joe's Lobster Mart on the Cape. It's at the end of the canal on the Sandwich side. BTW, it's also the bestfish market for miles with great lobster and fish prices. They even sell live crabs for $2.00/lb.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          i have fond memories of smelting with my family as a kid. at this point, i'm a little too far inland for that to work (nashua area), alas!

        2. we've been seeing less and less in LI Sound, likely due to the dramatic increase in the striper population over the last 10-15 years.

          Bump this post in august and I'll bring you a few pounds fresh caught. you'd have to meet me at mohegan or foxwoods though, I'm down new haven way.

          1. I just saw some at Market Basket in Londonderry NH but can't remember where they were from - but seafood department, looked great, almost got some but the haddock was calling me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lexpatti

              interesting, i've been looking in market basket (nashua and concord area stores) all fall/ winter and have only seen frozen or previously frozen from canada. did you notice if the ones in londonderry were fresh?

              1. re: qianning

                I didn't, sorry. If I'm in there this week, I'll check adn report back.

            2. I smelted in the Finger lakes for many years and the North East Smelting really begins around the middle of April when the water warms up enough to breed. It should run until mid May. Anything in stores now is likely from the south or previously frozen.
              Keep your hopes up, the local stuff should be in store soon.