Portland winters are grueling affairs, an annual test of wills. It weakens our muscles, pales our skin. It keeps us indoors for months of semi-hibernation, alienation, alcohol. But you don't have to surrender. There are ways to fight back. And one is to raise your mittened fist and say "Fuck you, Winter! I'm going outside! And I'm going to sit on stool on the ice in a tiny hut with a wood stove and I'm going to catch smelt! And I'm going to laugh my ass off and probably drink some beers and I'm going to bring some hot-dog rolls to eat the smelt with! So fuck you!"
Smelt fishing involves baiting lines and watching for wriggles in the ropes and then pulling up the lines smoothly and swiftly. Smelts are small, silvery things, six inches or so long. And they make good eating when you're sitting by a wood stove on the ice, and are especially good with some horseradish mayo. For $15 a head, you can rent a hut at a smelt camp and fish your face off with squirmy disgusting blood worms. It's an alternative to sitting in your apartment sipping whiskey, watching the snow sweep into drifts, wishing it was warmer.
Jim's Smelt Camp | Route 24, Bowdoinham | 207.666.3049