Ice Is Out!!
Spring is officially here now that the ice is off Gunflint. Already Bruce is talking about how great the Lake Trout fishing will be because the ice went out early enough to let the trout come up. I, of course, can already taste the sizzling fillets with sauted almonds piled on them.
This brings to mind another tasty fish treat from the past. When Bruce and I were first married, it was a spring ritual to go smelt fishing one night in early May. We'd work on our lodge projects during the day and have a light dinner. Then it was off to Lake Superior. Our favorite spot to go was Oscar Sundquist's on Big Bay up around Hovland. There was a small creek running on the edge of his property which he graciously gave us access to.
This is another fishing event that you had to put on all the clothes you owned in hopes of not freezing. Everyone needed hip waders too. After dark we would wade in the water and use big dip nets to catch the smelt. If they were really running, there would be so many fish that you walked on them. You would not be able to lift the nets out because they were so full. Hopefully you wouldn't trip and let that cold water into your hip boots.
Once we had enough smelt, Bruce would start the fire and put on the frying pan and grease to warm up. Most people gill and gut smelt but Bruce filleted them. Lake Superior smelt were so large that you could get at least one nice fillet and maybe a second smaller one. After a dusting of flour, these small fillets would go into the hot grease. In a few minutes they were golden brown. A slotted spoon deposited them on paper towels. Next was a quick pass with the salt shaker and then it was time to eat. I have to tell you that smelt fixed like this eat just like popcorn. Sitting here this morning, I can still taste them.
We tried bringing home some smelt but they never tasted as good the next day. Sometimes we put them into gardens for fertilizer but critters always dug them up. So usually we just caught and cooked for our meal and left the rest in the lake. Today those huge runs are a thing of the past but it was great to experience them.