TRAVERSE CITY — Before charter boat captain Scott Anderson has even docked his boat, his clients know that they’ll be dining on their fresh catch in a local restaurant later that evening.
In a program sometimes called “hook and cook,” certified charter boat captains take their client’s catch to a local restaurant, where it’s cooked and served the same day.
The practice has been going on for decades, but in 2012 the state of Michigan officially established the Catch and Cook program. Under it, charter fishing clients are approved to have their recreationally caught fish from Michigan waters prepared and served to them by licensed restaurants.
Anderson, who has docked at Leland’s historic Fishtown for three decades, has been setting up fresh fish dinners at The Cove and Riverside Inn in Leland for years.
“It’s a great experience where you’re going from the water to the plate,” Anderson said. “We put the fish on ice, take it to Carlson’s to be cleaned and filleted and then it goes to the restaurant of (the client’s) choice.”
Like other captains, Anderson typically calls ahead and makes a reservation at the restaurant so that the staff know what to expect, he said. This is the third year that he has also offered a Catch and Cook fishing experience through Northwestern Michigan College’s Extended Education. It’s perfect for a single person who doesn’t want to charter a boat just for himself, he said.
Knowing that their fish will be prepared the same day is especially appealing to out-of-towners, who often don’t have a way to cook it, said Martin Ball, manager of Apache Trout Grill in Traverse City. Apache chefs work with a variety of certified captains and will cook a catch three ways: grilled, fried or blackened.