Chicago lakefront: Smelt surprise

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I had a hard time believing this, but there have been some quality smelt catches, at least by recent standards, on the Chicago lakefront.

When the guys at Park Bait first told me of some catches on Saturday night of 100-200 smelt, I was doubtful.

But a buddy did a prowl last night, and he talked with some of the guys who netted that many on Saturday. Last night, the best catches were in the dozens.

Freddie, the purveyor of the “Filipino Nets,” told my buddy, “Tell Bowman we’re getting them.”

I am astonished. I hadn’t bothered checking on smelting over the weekend because I didn’t expect much.

You got to love the mysteries of the lakefront.

It is good that one of the great traditions of Chicago fishing has something to talk about.

Smelt netting in Chicago runs through the end of April. Most popular is Montrose. Nylon-mesh nets, commonly known as “Filipino Nets,” are essential with the clearer water of recent decades. Because of harbor work, 31st is closed; alternatives are Adler, Burnham, 39th, Casino Pier or Cal Park.

On a related note, Belmont was closed last night. May try to track down what is going on with that.

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