Carlson's of Fishtown
For more than a century now, the Carlson family has operated a fishery in northwestern Michigan. Starting with Nels who emigrated from Norway, to Will, to Lester, to Bill, theyve handed down the tradition, adapted and turned their dock at Leland into historic Fishtown. From the time he was 11 years old, Bill Carlson was roping the nets on the reels, cleaning the fish and selling them, too, especially during the summer. In 1965, he took a break from his college studies to help the family when his uncle Gordon became too ill to work. Hes been in the fishing business ever since. Along the way, the Carlson family has used a variety of gear for different target species, including small mesh gill nets for chubs, large mesh gill nets for whitefish, developing a purse seine, converting to trap nets for whitefish. Their experience has run the gamutfrom changes in government management priorities, to revisions in fishing territories, to adjustments in quotas, to fish population dynamics, to contaminants, to invasive species. Through it all, the Carlson family did what they could to help create an environment conducive to a sustainable business. They worked with the Michigan Fish Producers Association, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Sea Grant, trying to educate others in the industry about the importance of structure and planning to enhance stability¬ just for what we can catch today, but for what might be available tomorrow.