Alewife and Smelt are the main forage species utilized by Trout and Salmon in Lake Michigan. Several other species of fish are also utilized: Sticklebacks, Emerald Shinners, Bloater Chubs, and various other types of minnows.
Alewife and Smelt both spawn in the spring along the entire shoreline of the lake. During the summer and fall months they can be found using depth sounders in massive schools inhabiting deep water.
Alewife and Smelt can be used in most of the various cut bait and bait rigs. They are best used when freshly caught. When Alewife and Smelt are frozen they tend to become soft when thawed out. They can be preserved for later use by first soaking the fish in a brine solution, then freezing the whole fish or strips. To make a brine, use 2 cups of canning salt per gallon of cold water. Soak the whole fish in the brine overnight in the refrigerator. Then softly pat dry the fish with "unscented" paper towels. Next place the dry fish on wax paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer. After the outside of the fish has frozen, place them in plastic ziplock bags in the freezer for later use. Do not use dead Alewife that you find floating on the surface. Salmon and Trout can smell the difference.