Smelts – more precisely freshwater smelts or typical smelts to distinguish them from the related Argentinidae, Bathylagidae and Retropinnidae – are a family of small fish, Osmeridae, found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are common in the North American Great Lakes, and in the lakes and seas of the northern part of Europe, and run in large schools along the coastline during their spring migration to their spawning streams. The Delta Smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus is found in the Sacramento Delta of California, and is an endangered species.
It is one of the few fish that sportsmen are allowed to net, using dip nets, either along the coastline or in the streams. Some sportsmen also ice fish for smelt. Smelt are often fried and eaten whole.