What is Smelt? Smelt fish facts, living habitat, kinds, reproduction. Information on Smelt fish.
Smelt; any of a family of small edible fishes found in cold or temperate waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Slender fish with rather long, pointed heads, smelts have a small adipose, ar fatty, fin on the dorsal side, usually opposite the anal fin. Their bedtes are generally translucent greenish on the top and silvery to white on the sides and bottom. Often tiny, smelts are an important food for larger predator fishes.
Some smelts inhabit coastal inshore waters, often entering nearby fresh water to spawn, while others spend their entire lives in fresh water and in some cases have become landlocked. Highly prized food fishes with a delicate flavor, smelts are important commercial as well as sport fishes.
The American smelt (Osmerus mordax) is usually 7 to 9 inches (17.5-22 cm) long and has jang fanglike teeth. it is found along the eastern coast of North America from Lanrador to Virginia and in the St. Lawrence River. Introduced into the Great Lakes in 1912, the American smelt supports an important commercial fishery there. The much smaller Sacramento smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) is common along the Pacific coast and is particularly abundant in San Francisco Bay, where tens of thousands are caught in nets within a few hours. The European smelt (O. eperlanus), found in many waters of northern Europe, is also impartant comrnercially and known for its cucumberlike flavor.
Smelts are classified in several genera that make up the family Osmeridae of the order Clupeiformes.