A passion passed on from father to son –
and soon from father to daughters!
Founded in 2007, the firm Les Éperlans de Miguasha (Miguasha Smelt) grew out of a family tradition dating back to the 1800s. From one generation to the next the Wafers have handed down their expertise in a longstanding fishing practice. Each year, from mid-January to mid-March, Kevin Wafer braves the harsh weather and the cold to indulge his passion and be able to offer the public smelt of outstanding quality, with the delicate and sweet taste particular to this one-of-a-kind fish.
A passion passed on from father to son – and soon from father to daughters!
Miguasha smelt are generally sold in 3 to 5 pound packets. For optimum preservation, all our products are vacuum packed.
By request we also sell fish in 25-pound packets, in a cardboard box (measuring 16” x 16” x 12”). But please note that we’re open to any special request that will satisfy the requirements of our customers.
Thanks to a traditional fishing method, Miguasha smelt offer a unique flavor profile, suggestive of the sweet notes of almonds..
Once fished, the catch is deposited directly on ice to start it freezing. Here’s where science does its work. To slow down the freezing process, the smelts’ molecular structure changes by producing glycerol, a natural antifreeze that leaves the flesh delicately sweet. Incidentally, it was the comedian and biologist Boucar Diouf who discovered that chemical reaction while working on a doctoral thesis that explored cold-resistance factors in Escuminac rainbow smelt.
Capable of reaching 25 centimeters in length, the smelt is a silver-colored anadromous fish (living in the sea, but journeying to fresh water to breed) with delicate tasty white flesh.
It lives in cold water at depths ranging from 12 to 150 meters, never too far from the coastline, and has a life expectancy of roughly five years. Recognized for its considerable nutritional properties, smelt are an excellent source of protein and also contain significant quantities of vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium.
Smelt fishing is a popular activity carried out during the spawning period, in the winter season.
In the Gaspé Peninsula it’s practiced both as a leisure and a commercial activity in rivers and estuaries. Commercial fishing is done using two distinct methods, either with holding trap nets for fishing along the coastline, or with bag nets when the situation involves strong currents or greater depths. Miguasha smelt are fished commercially based on sustainable-development principles, integrated management, and ecosystem and precautionary approaches, in accordance with the Oceans Act and the Species at Risk Act.
The best way to enjoy smelts’ delicate sweet flesh is to keep things simple.
First gut and wash the fish in fresh water, then dry them well with paper towel. Next, roll the smelt in flour and sauté them in a well-buttered pan.
If you wish to avoid making too much smoke, you can also replace half the butter with grapeseed oil, which doesn’t burn.
Salt and pepper the fish. Once the smelt are very well cooked and radiantly golden, serve them with fresh lemon: simple and delicious!