Mich fish. So delish.

You’ve heard it all before. Fresh fish is great for you—chock full of essential nutrients—and doctors recommend that you eat it at least once a week, but… where do you buy local fish and how do you cook it? We got you:

A black plate topped with freshly broiled local Great Lakes fish garnished with green beans.

Get hooked on Mi Fresh Fish

Did you know that the fish sold at the big box stores usually comes from overseas? That means it is driven, shipped, or flown for days before it plops into your favorite grocer’s frozen food section.

You’d like to buy fresh, local fish but where? Have no fear–Michigan’s Fresh Fish Finder is here! This filterable database of Michigan fish suppliers and producers is a fast and easy way to buy fresh, local fish.

Why Mich fish?

Better brain. Healthier hair. Higher hops. Ninja speed… What? It does give your whole body a boost! Not only is fresh fish a low-fat source of protein packed with essential nutrients, but it also:

  • Is a good source of vitamin D (which can improve sleep)
  • Lowers the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension
  • Boosts your brain health (and may help treat or prevent depression or ADHD)
  • Supports your immune system and fights inflammation
  • Is a natural source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A/B/D, magnesium, EPA+DHA, and omega-3s
Teen girl with red hair in front of yellow background giving the OK sign with hands.
A plate of Fried Fish with french fries

Not fishy. Just delish-y.

Trying something new can be scary… and we get it, raw fish isn’t exactly appetizing. But you’ve done hard things and believe us—cooking fish is not nearly as difficult as you’ve imagined! Really. Wild Caught and Close to Home is a cookbook full of more than 60 recipes for Great Lakes whitefish submitted by experienced chefs and fishing families who have been preparing whitefish for generations. Learn from the best by downloading the cookbook for just $5!

Eating out? Order fresh fish!

Food always tastes better when someone else makes it (seriously, though!). The next time you are going out to eat, choose a restaurant that serves local fresh fish. Indulge in beer-battered whitefish or opt for a healthy dinner with fish that’s been baked, broiled, or grilled (preferably with little or no added salt). Select a side of steamed vegetables for a guilt-free night out.

Family cooking fish in the kitchen

New to cooking fish? Start here:

If you or the people you cook for are intimidated by fish, start with your favorite flavor combinations. Love to grill? Try this easy Grilled Whitefish. Do you have a Taco Tuesday night? Try Chef Riri’s Chipotle Fish Tacos or make Friday Fish Night a weekly thing.

Freshwater Feasts is a cooking blog dedicated to “Great Lakes cooking at its best.” The posts feature easy, delicious recipes from Michigan Sea Grant staff and partners, as well as preparation tips, restaurant discoveries, and more.

A commercial fishing boat returning from their pull

Buy local. Support sustainability.

Buying local Michigan fresh fish not only keeps your hard-earned money in your community, but it allows you to:

  • Support locally-owned businesses (often family-run for generations)
  • Shop sustainably and help the environment
  • Receive better customer service and fresher food
  • Contribute to improved public infrastructure
  • Invest in your community socially, culturally, and economically

Michigan Fish Producers

Michigan fish farmers

Farming done in water is called aquaculture. People have been farming this way for thousands of years. Around the world, farmers grow aquatic crops such as clams and oysters, shrimp, kelp, and dozens of species of fish. In Michigan, seafood farmers raise crops such as trout, salmon, tilapia, bass, yellow perch, minnows, lake whitefish, shrimp, and more.

Michigan commercial fishers

Commercial fishing in Michigan waters can provide consumers with a local, healthy, and sustainable Great Lakes food source – and can help support a lake-based economy. Commercial fishers provide fresh fish products straight to you and to restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, and local fish houses around the Great Lakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy local fresh fish?

Michigan fish producers are located across the state. This includes producers of food fish, bait fish, fish for stocking, ornamental fish, and fee-fishing. The Fresh Fish Finder tool (freshfishfinder.org) can help you find fish businesses across the state so you can buy directly from the source. Find fresh fish and fish products in your area, support local and Great Lakes businesses, and eat great fish.

What are Mi Fresh Fish product types?

Mi Fresh Fish are Michigan-produced fish products that can range from food fish, bait fish, fish for stocking, ornamental fish, and fee-fishing:

  • Seafood: Seafood includes freshwater and marine life that can be eaten and could be commercially harvested or raised on a farm. Approximately 90% of U.S. seafood is imported. Michigan’s largest production of food fish is lake whitefish and rainbow trout.
  • Bait fish: Bait fish are used by anglers for fishing, or they can be put into ponds to enhance an ecosystem. Bait fish are also called live bait or minnows.
  • Stocking: Fish are sold from private operations for people to stock into their own private ponds. Fish are also produced at hatcheries owned by federal, state and tribal governments to be stocked in public waters.
  • Ornamental: Ornamental fish, sometimes called pet fish or aquarium fish, and other aquatic life are often bought for their appearance or kept for personal enjoyment in aquariums, water gardens, or decorative ponds.
  • Fee fishing: Fee fishing is a recreational fishing experience for anglers who pay a fee or pay-by-the-pound to fish a private business or landowner’s stocked pond.
What fish are the healthiest to eat?

All fish are healthy, but every person should conduct their own risk-benefit analysis as not all fish are the same species (there’s over 350 species consumed in the US!). Fish is a nutrient-rich food containing high-quality protein, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3), and important vitamins and minerals. The greatest risks to human health include pathogens and toxins, but these are primarily controlled through proper storage and handling.

Some fish species such as salmon, lake trout, and lake whitefish have more omega-3 fatty acids than others, which are important for brain and heart health. Research shows that pregnant people should include fish in their diet for healthy fetal development; they just need to be empowered to make informed decisions when selecting species that offer more benefits than risk. Some species such as tuna and swordfish have a greater potential for heavy metal inclusion. For example, opting for lean rainbow trout rather than tuna will allow at-risk communities (such as older or pregnant folks) to gain their daily value of EPA+DHA which is important for fetal neurological development.

Are there any restaurants local to me that serve Mi Fresh Fish?

Yes, but not many Michigan restaurants can pride themselves in their locally produced fish dishes. Actually, most seafood is imported from other countries such as Canada or Indonesia. Not sure what your local restaurant offers? Simply ask your local restaurants what’s on the menu and where it came from! We encourage you to start the conversation to support our local MI Fresh Fish!

What are some fool-proof ways to cook fish?

Cooking fish is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Some easy cooking techniques include grilling, baking, poaching, and sauteing. For tips, check out these recipes on Freshwater Feasts: Whitefish filets on the grill, baked salmon 101, Tuscan poached fish, and honey-garlic glazed steelhead trout. You can place a fish filet with oil under a broiler for 10 minutes (until the meat reaches a temperature of 145 degrees, or medium rare) and, bam, your meal is ready!

Where can I learn more about the benefits of eating local fresh fish?

Fish is an incredibly healthy, high-protein food source — quite possibly the best choice of all animal proteins. State and federal regulations help ensure that you’re buying a safe, sustainable product. You can learn more about seafood health through the Delaware Sea Grant seafood health facts website. 

How do I weigh benefits and concerns about Mi Fresh Fish?
As with any other lifestyle choice, it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of eating fresh Michigan fish. If you buy local fish from restaurants, markets, or other commercial sources, the products are regulated under state law and Seafood HACCP licensing to be as safe and healthy as possible. Learn about the Seafood HACCP program here.
If you’re catching your own fish or want to see safety advisories for your region, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) provides Eat Safe Fish Guides. Eat Safe Fish Guides consider several different contaminants that can be found in fish, including mercury and PFOS. Following these guidelines can help consumers reduce their exposure to these contaminants while still getting the health benefits from eating fish.
These programs are regularly updated based on new contaminant data for fish caught in Michigan. In addition to updating safety guidelines, these programs regularly review the science they use to make recommendations and regulations. This review can take some time but ensures that these programs are based on the best available science to protect the health of folks who eat fish caught in Michigan.