An Afternoon at Carlson’s Fishery

Carlson’s Fishery has been a family owned business in Leland’s Historic Fishtown for over a century. They are a local staple, but are also reorganized nationally for not only their fish, but for historic preservation. Check out this article from The University of Michigan to learn more about the fishery, and what they do for the Great Lakes. My brother has worked at Carlson’s Fishery for the past three years, and he always smells like Lake Michigan and smoked fish when he comes home. Even though I’m not a meat (or fish) eater, I still appreciate Carlson’s locally caught and sustainable products. We get almost everything from our local farmers, and if we were fish eaters, we would get everything from Carlson’s too!

My brother, Dryden, is starting a new adventure in Tennessee next week, and had his last day at Carlson’s. He invited me to shoot some photos of the fishery, so I spent the afternoon on the river and soaked up the fisherman’s lifestyle. 

I parked outside of town, and walked along the river before heading to Carlson’s Fishery. You can walk by Joy and Janice Sue. Both are parked in the river when they are not on Lake Michigan. The boats are both working vessels, but Joy is used for whitefish, and Janice Sue is used for chubs; the fishermen eat lunch on Joy everyday, while overlooking the river.

Janice Sue & Joy on the River:

For anyone visiting Fishtown, Dryden recommends stopping by around 12:30. At 12:40, they take the fish out of the smoke houses; you can even try a piece when it’s that fresh. If you’re not in the mood for jerky, you can watch the fisherman process and filet whitefish, before bringing it home. We recommend  grabbing a piece of jerky, then heading to The Village Cheese Shanty for a sandwich and beer. You can eat your lunch on the river, and watch for incoming charters delivering freshly caught fish.

Warning: Fish Processing Below

My biggest take away from spending the afternoon at Carlson’s? The importance of community involvement. We are so blessed to live by 80% of North America’s freshwater. It’s amazing that local farmers and fisheries, like Carlson’s, exist in our community. The fishermen work long shifts in the sun, and are always on their feet to bring fresh, sustainably caught fish into your home.

Dryden had his send off, by participating in a Carlson’s tradition: getting thrown in the river.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *