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Port Milwaukee Temporarily Expands Public Access Hours for Residents to Enjoy Local Smelting Tradition

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Contact: Jonathan Fera, [email protected], (414) 286-8131


MILWAUKEE, WI – Port Milwaukee is temporarily expanding public access hours for the area under the Hoan Bridge to accommodate requests from residents who are wishing to participate in Wisconsin’s traditional smelting season.


Smelts are a family of small fish found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, as well as in North American rivers, streams and lakes, including the Great Lakes. Every year, Wisconsinites flock to the shores of Lake Michigan from late-March to early-April to fish for smelt and take advantage of this rich tradition on Milwaukee’s waterfront.


Effective now through April 22, 2022, the expanded public access hours under the Hoan Bridge will be from 8:00pm to midnight nightly. This area will be closed from midnight to 3:00am nightly during this time period.


A dedicated Port security guard will be on site to ensure all safety and security measures are followed by members of the public. Residents are reminded about existing public access guidance for Jones Island here.


“Port Milwaukee consistently works to maintain a high degree of safety, vigilance and compliance with security requirements for its commercial operations, while also providing residents with as much public access to the waterfront as possible under local, state, and federal law,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Director of Port Milwaukee. “We hope that members of the public can safely enjoy this year’s smelt run.”


“Smelting is a longstanding outdoor tradition in Bay View and throughout the State of Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. “I appreciate the flexibility demonstrated by Port staff and the Board of Harbor Commissioners in accommodating the 2022 smelt run while keeping residents and families safe during this fun fishing season.”


Members of the public are reminded that all tents, waste, and other fishing-related equipment must be removed from under the Hoan Bridge on a nightly basis.


The Port also operates the Russell Avenue Pier, which is immediately south of the Coast Guard station, and is another publicly-accessible option for area fishing.


Port Milwaukee is an economic entity of City government governed by the seven-member Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council. It administers operations on the 467 acres that make up the Port. It promotes shipping and commerce throughout the region by providing access to domestic and international ships, rail, and over-the-road transportation. Learn more at