Lots of people who love to fish know the thrill of reeling in a fat trout on a fly line, or catching a walleye big enough to make dinner for two. In Michigan, more than a million adults have purchased fishing licenses in the last year, and that doesn’t account for all the kids and teens who also cast their lines in local rivers and lakes.
Michigan’s largest production of food fish is lake whitefish and rainbow trout. Other fish that populate our Great Lakes and inland lakes include lake trout, brown trout, walleye, salmon, steelhead and bass.
But you don’t have to own a tackle box to enjoy freshly-caught fish. We’ll show you how to find fresh local fish in Michigan.
Why fish should be on your plate
Fish is a nutrient-rich protein source that’s easy to fix and goes well with so many other foods. You can season and broil fish filets and serve them alongside wild rice and vegetables. Or flake cooked fish with cilantro and salsa into tortillas for tacos. Thick fish like salmon and walleye can go right on the grill.
For adults, the USDA recommends eating at least 8 ounces of fish per week, which is typically a couple of servings. You should also pay attention to types of fish that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which can help boost brain and eye health. Some of these fish found in Michigan include salmon and lake trout.
You can find more details about dietary guidelines and fish here.
Where to find fresh, local fish
Many grocery stores have a fish and seafood section, and it’s becoming more common to see some locally-sourced fish there. But specialty shops and local fish markets will be your best bet for finding fresh, local fish. Shop owners and employees will often have information about where specific fish were caught and by which local commercial fishing company.
These fish markets are also a great place to get local fish products that are hard to find elsewhere, including fish sausage, smoked filets of fish, and locally frozen fish.
You can use the Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder website to find a local fish market in your area. It’s put together by the National Sea Grant Network, which is a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in addition to 34 university-based programs. In Michigan, this includes Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
Here are some local fish market highlights by region across the state. You’ll notice that the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula have the most fresh fish shops: