Every once in a while, Batol's net would come up with 15 or 20 smelt in it, at which point mother and daughter would squeal with delight and both would move fish from net to bucket.
The Batols are advocates of the waste-not school of smelt dining.
Peterman said he'd sampled fried smelt at a "smelt festival.
In fact, smelt are so rich in oil that the Indians would sometimes place a wick inside a dried eulachon and burn it like a candle - a practice that led some Europeans to dub it the "candlefish.
Commercial fishermen have targeted smelt in the Columbia River since the 1800s.
Kelso, on the east bank of the Cowlitz River, proclaimed itself as the "smelt capital of the world," and smelt festivals were a big event in the 1940s.
Kelso still has its smelt events, including a smelt-eating contest run by the local Eagles lodge.
Smelt nets are available to rent from several locations in the Kelso-Longview area.
Before driving north, however, it's worth calling to make sure the smelt are still running.
If the smelt do move into the Sandy River and you want to dip there, head east from Portland on Interstate 84 to Troutdale.
Finally, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says it will update its recorded General Information Line (503-872-5268) if smelt move into the Sandy.
WHAT: Eulachon, also known by the common names of smelt, candlefish and oilfish.
WHERE: Smelt are now in the Cowlitz River in southwest Washington, with the best dipping from Kelso to Castle Rock.
WHEN: March is usually the peak of the run, although smelt have not entered the Sandy River until mid-April in some years.
LICENSES: No license is required to dip smelt in Oregon or Washington.