1) Rinse the smelts thoroughly and pat dry. Place the bread crumbs, salt and pepper into a large resealable bag and shake to combine. Pour the lemon juice into a shallow dish.
2) Dip the smelts into the lemon juice and then place in the bag with the dry mixture and shake until the fish are well coated. You can coat 2 to 3 fish at a time, depending on their size.
3) Pour enough peanut oil into a 30cm cast iron frying pan just to cover the bottom of the pan. Place over medium-high heat until shimmering.
4) Add the smelts to the pan, 4 to 5 at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side until lightly browned and cooked through.
5) When all the fish are cooked, serve immediately.