Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

August 4, 2013

Commercial fishing is Petersen legacy

MUSKEGON (AP) — For a fourth generation Lake Michigan commercial fisherman trying to establish a fresh-fish retail and wholesale business in Muskegon, the 18-hour days are brutal.

During fishing season, Eric Petersen might start the day by getting up at 3:30 a.m. to head off to the Petersen Fisheries boats on Muskegon Lake. He will fish with uncles Alan and Chris and cousin Joel. His father, Bill is still part of the family business but not out on the water as much, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

The Petersens will commercially fish for Lake Michigan whitefish with live trap nets off the coast of Muskegon from Mount Garfield Road to the south to Duck Lake to the north. They will cast the huge nets out up to five miles but usually fish in 50-60 feet of water, Eric said. The company will put out a dozen nets it must tend, bringing in thousands of pounds of fish each day.

The Petersens will go out four or five days a week, weather-depending from early spring through late fall. The Muskegon commercial fleet is unable to enter Lake Michigan when Muskegon Lake is frozen over during the winter months.

On fishing days, Eric will return to the dock about noon and begin to clean the day’s catch for delivery to Chicago and other brokers.

By mid-afternoon, he’ll take the portion of the catch he purchases from the family business for the Fish Monger’s Wife, a farmers market-turned-retail outlet in Norton Shores. He will process for the Fish Monger’s Wife until early evening. Eric goes home and early the next morning does it all over again.

“This is what I am going to do,” he says quietly about the fishing business he learned from going out on Lake Michigan with his father and uncles since he was 8 years old. After graduating from Muskegon High School in 1994, it was off to the family commercial fishing boat.

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