Milwaukee smelting season; port officials expand public access hours

28 February 2022, Lower Saxony, Hoopte: Freshly caught smelt lying in a box. The smelt season in the Elbe is in full swing, but the large restaurants are not yet prepared for companies because of Corona. (Photo by Philipp Schulze/picture alliance via

Port Milwaukee announced on Thursday, March 2 that it is temporarily expanding public access hours for the area under the Hoan Bridge to accommodate requests from residents who want to take part in the 2023 traditional smelting season.

Officials say effective March 15 through April 15, the gates under the Hoan Bridge on Jones Island will remain open for public access throughout the evening and into the early morning. 

Due to upcoming construction work beginning under the Hoan Bridge later this year, 2023 will be the last smelting season for the foreseeable future where the area under the Hoan Bridge will be accessible to the public.

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Alternative publicly-accessible fishing sites are available at Port Milwaukee, including near the Lake Express Ferry Terminal and the Russell Avenue Fishing Pier near the U.S. Coast Guard Station. 

Port Milwaukee security will monitor the area under the Hoan Bridge to ensure all safety and security measures are followed by members of the public. Members of the public are also reminded that all tents, waste, and other fishing-related equipment must be removed from under the Hoan Bridge on a nightly basis.