People living near the coast almost always prefer the fish they grew up with, the fish that lands nearby. Folks from the Midwest often miss the delicious lake species they enjoyed as kids. Last week Sea to Table’s Sean Dimin and Jacob Tupper traveled the Great Lakes and met some great fishing families landing great fish.
First stop was in Bay Port, MI. on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Commercial fishing vessels have landed at Bay Port since 1871, and the Williams family has been fishing the F/V Osprey and the F/V Patsy since 1977. Father Tod and his daughter Lakon land Yellow Perch, White Perch, Catfish, Lake Trout, Bullheads, Burbot (aka Lawyer or Freshwater Cod), Buffalo (aka Quillback), Sheepshead, Carp, White Bass, Rock Bass and White Suckers, but mostly Whitefish.
A long drive and ferry ride found Sean and Jacob across Lake Michigan in Two Rivers, WI, about an hour’s drive from Green Bay. The F/V Susie Q and F/V Peter Paul are owned and operated by Mike LeClair, alongside his brothers Daniel and Paul as well as his daughter Jamie. The LeClairs are a five generation fishing family, moving from Quebec in the mid-1800s and fishing ever since.
Captain Jon Kulpa and his brother Jeremy Kulpa run the F/V Jaime Ann, a trap-net boat that Sean and Jacob boarded before dawn. They harvest from a specified area about three miles off shore, and Jeremy made the point to stress how fresh their whitefish was and what good care they take. Trap Nets keep the fish alive and stop them from getting beat up in nets. Immediately processing the fish allows them to offer the freshest fish possible from the lake.
Jacob asked Jeremy what his hobbies were besides fishing. He said, “fishing.” Jeremy made the comment, “If you got all the LeClairs and all the Kulpas together, you’d need a big hall and at least a couple barrels (of beer).” Jacob reported “Jeremy fried up some fresh caught Burbot (known to them as Lawyer) as well as some Whitefish when we arrived back at the dock. I have to say, I’ve never been so excited and impressed to eat fried fish at 10:30 in the morning.” A nice morning, and we plan to make Midwesterners happy everywhere.
The 2015 James Beard Award Winners were announced last week.
Special kudos to four of the winners:
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Jonathon Sawyer, Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, OH
Best Chef: Midwest
Gerard Craft, Niche, Clayton, MO
Best Chef: Northeast
Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA
2015 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
Michel Nischan of Wholesome Wave, Westport, CT
We are very proud of our friends.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team