The Mackinac Straits area from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island is steeped in history. Great Lakes fisheries have threaded throughout the region's rich history, and are reflected in the active recreational and commercial fisheries still actively fishing waters of the Straits areas. From either side of the Mackinaw Bridge - and even from Mackinac Island - this tour explores fisheries history, current day fisheries, and even a few places where you can literally get a taste of locally caught fish either fresh or ready to eat.

A stop along the coastal St. Ignace Historic Walking Tour interprets the areas Commercial Fishing and Whitefish, as follows:

The A-di-ka-mig, or whitefish, once swam through these waters in great numbers. Native American legend tells that Nanabozho* got the idea of how to catch whitefish while observing a spider weaving a web to catch flies. 

Native Americans survived the winters here because hundreds of whitefish could be caught through the ice with gill nets. Alexander Henry, who wintered here in 1763, reported that whitefish exceeded trout as a delicious and nutritive food and were her in astonishing numbers.

After the fur trade died out, the Native Americans and French, long skilled in fishing these waters, joined the growing commercial fishing industry. Many Swedish fisherman came her from the Aland Islands and lent their skills to the business as well. Some of the old buildings along the walk are their fish houses. The white building, Superior Floorcovering, was once the Halberg Fishery. Just ahead where this boardwalk ends, you will see a historic dock and will detour around the "Old Fish House." The walk resumes on the other side of the old fishery.

Great Lakes commercial fishing is no easy task. The currents and winds are unpredictable and dangerous. Many fishermen have lost their lives here. A monument is placed near the city marina in honor of them. Today, commercial fishermen are Native Americans and great numbers of fish are still shipped out daily. Bags of fresh whitefish are brought directly to local restaurants as they are caught.

- courtesy of the Historic St. Ignace Walking Tour, published by Michilimackinac Historical Society (2009).

Fossilized Whitefish unearthed in the Straits Area
Fossilized Whitefish unearthed in the Straits Area
Mackinac State Historic Parks
Straits Area Watershed
Straits Area Watershed Map
The 'Mighty Mac' Mackinac Bridge
The 'Mighty Mac' Mackinac Bridge
Michigan Sea Grant

What you can do here

Access Environmental ResearchAccess Fishing History & Culture ResearchBoat RidesBoat ViewingBuy FishCatch & CookCatch FishEat FishGift Shop or Fisheries Items for PurchaseSchool or Group ToursView Active FisheryView Exhibits

Driftwood Motel, Restaurant & Sports Bar (Click to show on map)
Lodging (and fish on the menu) will be available at the Driftwood for the May 2022 Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail network conference.
Massey Fish Company (Click to show on map)
For six generations, the Massey family has been harvesting wild-caught fish from the cold, clear waters of the Straits of Mackinac.
Massey Fish Company - Dockside (Click to show on map)
The dockside working waterfront for the Massey Fish Company.
Museum of Ojibwa Culture (Click to show on map)
Museum of Ojibwa Culture & Father Marquette Mission Park
Fort de Buade Museum (Click to show on map)
The museum’s collection features Native American objects of the pre-contact Woodland period through the eras of the French, British and Americans of the area.
Fishermen's Memorial (Click to show on map)
This monument celebrates the heritage and fishermen in this area.
Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island (Click to show on map)
Fort Mackinac (1781-1895) on Mackinac Island features a fisheries history exhibit related to the fishing and the fishing industry of the Straits area.
Big Stone Bay Fishery (Click to show on map)
Wholesale market & Retail Market
Anna's Homestyle Kitchen (Click to show on map) Info
Bell's Fishery (Click to show on map)
Wholesale & Retail Market
Two Hearted Charters (Click to show on map) Info
Colonial Michilimackinac, Mackinac State Historic Parks (Click to show on map)
State Historic park where you can explore local Straits area fisheries history exhibits.
Mackinac Straits Fish Co. (Click to show on map)
Wholesale and Retail Fish Market
Mackinac Grille And Waterfront Pub (Click to show on map) Info
The Galley Restaurant (Click to show on map) Info
Historic Mackinaw Boat Exhibit (Click to show on map)
View a historic Mackinaw Boat on display in St. Ignace.
EUP Fishing Charters (Click to show on map) Info