Pacific smelt are back on the menu at local seafood markets for the first time in more than three years , after the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife opened a limited commercial fishery on the Columbia River Feb. 10. It runs through Thursday.
Local seafood vendors, including NW Wild Products, Warrenton Deep Sea, Skipanon Brand Seafood and Bell Buoy are buying hundreds of pounds of smelt at a time while they last.
Currently, the little fish are running between $4 and $5 per pound at local markets. Some stores have also been offering smoked smelt for upward of $10 per pound.
As popular as they are with locals, Ron Neva, co-owner of NW Wild Products, said that restaurants are more hesitant to put smelt on the menu.