Image and information California Department of Fish & Game
Fishing Quote: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you get rid of him on weekends.
Family: Atherinidae (Silversides)
Genus and Species: Atherinopsis californiensis
Description: The body of the jacksmelt is elongate and somewhat compressed. The head is oblong and compressed, and the eyes and mouth are small. The color is greenish blue above, silver below, with a metallic stripe bordered with blue extending the length of the body. Jacksmelt, topsmelt, and California grunion are members of the silversides family and are not considered true smelt. These three species look very similar except for the location of the first dorsal fin. In the jacksmelt, the first dorsal fin is forward of a line drawn perpendicular to the vent (anus); in the topsmelt, it is just about over the vent and in the grunion, it is behind the vent.
Range: Jacksmelt occur from Santa Maria Bay, Baja California, to Yaquina, Oregon. Jacksmelt are found in California bays and ocean waters throughout the year. They are schooling fish which prefer shallow water less than 100 feet and are most common in 5 to 50 foot depths.
Natural History: Jacksmelt feed on small crustaceans. Jacksmelt that are 13 to 15 inches long are 8 or 9 years old. A 16 inch, 1 pound male was 11 years old. They will spawn first when 2 years old and about 6 inches long. The spawning season extends from October to March. Large masses of eggs, about the size of small BB's, are attached to shallow water seaweeds by means of long filaments.
Fishing Information: Jacksmelt are one of the most common fishes taken by pier anglers, but are also caught in the surf. Sometimes a number of coiled up worms are found in the flesh. These are intermediate stages of spine headed worms, the adult of which are harmful to sharks, pelicans and other fish predators. The worms are harmless to humans when the fish is thoroughly cooked.
Other Common Names: silverside, horse smelt, blue smelt, California smelt.
Largest Recorded:17.5 inches; no weight recorded; however, a jacksmelt 16 inches long weighed 1 pound.
Habitat: Bay Environment
#2: Sell a man a fish, and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish, and you lose a great business opportunity. Karl Marx