Smelts

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Allosmerus
Hypomesus
Mallotus
Osmerus
Spirinchus
Thaleichthys

Smelts – more precisely freshwater smelts or typical smelts to distinguish them from the related Argentinidae, Bathylagidae and Retropinnidae – are a family of small fish, Osmeridae, found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are common in the North American Great Lakes, and in the lakes and seas of the northern part of Europe, and run in large schools along the coastline during their spring migration to their spawning streams. The Delta Smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus is found in the Sacramento Delta of California, and is an endangered species.

It is one of the few fish that sportsmen are allowed to net, using dip nets, either along the coastline or in the streams. Some sportsmen also ice fish for smelt. Smelt are often fried and eaten whole.

Contents

Description

Smelts resemble salmon in appearance, but are smaller, usually reaching only around 20 centimetres (7.9 in), although some species can reach as much as 70 centimetres (28 in).[1] Indeed, smelts are a food source for salmon and lake trout. Like salmon, many species are anadromous, living most of their lives in the sea, but travelling into fresh water to breed. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the surf smelt, which spend their entire lives at sea.[2]

Smelt roe is bright orange in color, and is often used to garnish sushi.

Species

There are fifteen species of smelt, grouped into six genera:[1]

Family Osmeridae

Salangidae, Plecoglossus

Hypomesus

Mallotus

Osmerus

Thaleichthys

Allosmerus

Spirinchus

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