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Dead Smelts in Black Bay ???

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I was wondering if the Mad Scientist or anyone else could shed some light on what's happening as reported in the Salmon 2017 thread ? 


REELBAIT

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I saw the smelts too.  I figured they were regurgitated or stunned by predators.  Flotsam after the spawn die off?

Some of them smelts were still twitching..... Haven't seen it before.

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From Scott & Crossman (1973):

 

Many populations of smelt exhibit a pronounced postspawning mortality, and windrows of dead smelt may be cast up on shore, as occurs in Lake Erie in May or June.

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I'm going out to fish. - John 21:3

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I have observed smelt die-offs on Lake Nipigon before. Both lakers and speck fishing gets pretty good around them. Biologist told me they are caused by temperature inversions. It seems a block of very cold water gets mixed up with a bait ball of smelt and knocks them out--they float to surface and are still twitching. Some even recover.

 

Most years I see a few floating dead smelt--this year only 1. I have noticed more bait balls on the graph and caught lots of lakers full of very small smelt keyed in on them.

 

Water temps on surface are fluctuating wildly. My favourite speck shoal  was 44 degrees one day--49 degrees the next day and 39 degrees the third day. Wind was calm all three days. No specks.

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Thanks for the replies. Thought possibly something catastrophic was happening. Just never heard of this happening in the past 51 years but obviously it has. Once again thanks for the replies. 


REELBAIT

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I remember seeing dead smelts floating every year around June on Black Bay when I was a kid (a few decades ago...). I think there were a lot more smelts in general back then as well. Saw a few small ones floating a couple of weeks ago on Squaw Bay as well..

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Here's an interesting report on smelt in Lake Superior from the May 1949 Thunder Bay Field Naturalists newsletter, which I stumbled across when looking for something completely unrelated.  Provides an interesting perspective from a time when smelt were newly arrived in Lake Superior, but does make note of mass die-offs.

 

see pages 2-3

 

http://www.tbfn.net/assets/files/Newsletters/May_1949.pdf

 

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I'm going out to fish. - John 21:3

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