There are plenty of treats people associate with Northern Michigan, whether it’s pasties from the Upper Peninsula, cherry products from Traverse City, or fudge on Mackinac Island.
But without question, another is the smoked whitefish many rightfully drool over when making a trek up north.
The Great Lakes might be home to the world’s most abundant supply of freshwater whitefish, and to many, that treat tastes even better when it is smoked to give it even more flavor.
With its proximity to the Great Lakes, many stores or fisheries around the state offer whitefish and other smoked fish such as salmon, and are hotspots for tourists.
Below is a breakdown of five great places around the state to get smoked whitefish. As a disclaimer, this is based on the experiences and travels of the author. If there’s a place not on this list but is also a great spot to get smoked whitefish, let us know in the comments below or by email. Maybe we can highlight them in the future!
5. John Cross Fisheries, Charlevoix
A family-run business since 1945, this spot is located along the stretch of water between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. It catches fish daily and sells a good assortment of seafood, including smoked fish. Plus, visiting here is also a good excuse to then walk the lovely streets of downtown Charlevoix.
4. Thill and Sons Fish House, Marquette
Another family-run business that has been around since 1961, this is located in downtown Marquette. Workers certainly don’t have to go far to find freshly caught fish, given the store is right in front of Lake Superior and there are daily treks to bring in, and smoke, whitefish out of the biggest of the Great Lakes.
3. Gustafson’s Smoked Fish, Brevort
Located in the Upper Peninsula along US-2, roughly 20 miles northwest of St. Ignace, this tourist hotspot features fresh smoked whitefish and so much more. It’s a general store that sells merchandise, beef jerky, snacks, and is a place to fuel up the car in an area where there aren’t a lot of gas stations.
2. Brown Fisheries Fish House, Paradise
Ok, we’re cheating a little bit here in that this isn’t a store, but a restaurant. Still, it’s hard to beat the whitefish here that can be smoked, served regularly or battered in a sandwich. The fish is caught in the morning each day from nearby Whitefish Bay or Lake Superior before the restaurant opens, so it’s as FRESH as can be. From the outside it might look like an old abandoned house, but trust us, it’s a ONE-OF-A-KIND place. Paradise is a small town roughly an hour northwest of Sault Ste. Marie.
1. Big Stone Bay Fishery Inc, Mackinaw City
Going back to markets/stores, this one is as good as it gets. Located across the street from Lake Huron in Mackinaw City, this is a wholesale market that catches its fish daily and has an assortment of products that are fresh. The store regularly sends boats out and not only has fish products it sells within its sizeable space, but also supplies neighboring stores in the area.
Have you visited any one of these places? Is there any we forgot? Let us know in the comments below.