No ice means no winter smelt-shack fishing for Mainers

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2016 10:37 AM
No ice means no winter smelt-shack fishing for Mainers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Winter ice fishing for smelt is a tradition in Maine, but fishermen say warm temperatures made this the shortest season in decades.

Ice fishing shacks normally dot the Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay until about mid-March. Fishermen squat for hours to catch smelts to be fried and eaten whole.

Warm temperatures and some steady rains have limited fish camps' ability to stay open, and some didn't bother opening at all. The slow year comes as regulators are trying to rebuild the fishery.

The Coast Guard had asked the shacks to be gone by February's end to make way for an ice-breaking mission on the Kennebec. A spokesman for the Coast Guard says the request is called off because it doesn't look like there will be any ice to break.