Rainbow Smelt, Osmerus mordax





The rainbow smelt has an elongated, slender body and pointed head with a large mouth.  Its colour is silvery iridescent sides and darker light green back.  The caudal fin is deeply fork and an adipose fin is present.  The average length of the rainbow smelt is about eight inches


The rainbow smelt are an anadromous fish, however there are landlocked populations. They are schooling and live midwater (pelagic) of coastal areas and lakes, only found in rivers and streams during their spawning migration.   The food items of rainbow smelt include aquatic insect larvae, amphipods, aquatic worms, and some fishes.  Rainbow smelt spawn in the spring usually April - May after the ice moves out.  They migrate from the salt water or a lake, seeking the swift moving riffles or runs of rivers and streams.  The adhesive eggs are released into the current and immediately stick to what ever they come in contact with.  After spawning the adults move back down stream.  The eggs are very small (~1mm in diameter) and hatch in two to three weeks and by the end of the summer can reach two inches in length.  Smelt are fished for commercially using hoop nets and recreationally by dipnetting.