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Environment and Outdoors

Smelts, Sought By Maine Ice Fishermen, Continue Rebound

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 photo a pair of rainbow smelt are held by a fisherman at Jim Worthing's Smelt Camps on the Kennebec River in Randolph, Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's smelts, a small fish beloved by ice fishermen, appear to be continuing a rebound in population after years of decline. Rainbow smelts come to shallow freshwater streams to spawn every spring, which make them a popular target of ice fishermen in the winter. Ice fishing shacks on frozen rivers are a common sight in some Maine towns, where fishermen sit for hours in the hopes of catching the fish.

But the health of the fish's population is in question, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed it as a federal "species of concern" in 2004.