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New Michigan Catch & Cook program allows anglers on charter boats to have fish cooked at restaurants
New Michigan Catch & Cook program allows anglers on charter boats to have fish cooked at restaurants05/29/2012
SPRING LAKE, MI -- Do you want your walleye or salmon fried, blackened, baked or in citrus pepper?
That'll be one of the new questions fishermen from local charter boats to bring their catch in for preparation as part of the Catch & Cook program in Michigan.
Representatives from restaurants, charter boats and the state congregated at Old Boys' Brewhouse in Spring Lake, just one of the participating restaurants, Thursday afternoon to celebrate bringing together the program to promote the creative marketing of Michigan fishing.
"Certainly some of the charter boat captains have had individual relationships with restaurants to let this occur," Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director Keith Creagh said. "But what happens today is a formal recognition of both the expertise that charter boat captains have with food safety and also the working with restaurants and local public health officials to make sure everyone is comfortable, so we can actually highlight this and make a difference."
Creagh said Michigan has been a bit "slow to the table" on this topic but is hoping this effort creates an opportunity for restaurants and charter boats.
"I think it's a beautiful thing," said Brolick, whose restaurant sits right along the Grand River near the channel that leads past Grand Haven. "There's nothing like fresh salmon out of our lakes, so it's a very unique niche. I think it will be a wonderful thing for Michigan tourism."
Keep in mind this isn't your grandma's house where you drop off your mess of bluegills and come back later for a fish fry. Regulations require only charter fishing clients can partake in this unique experience.
Brolick said the charter captains generally call ahead to let them know how many people and fish will be heading in for a meal, then the captain will drop off the fish for preparation.
"Cost depends on what side items, but if there are like three sides and we prepare the fish three different ways, it'll be about $10-15 dollars (per person)," Brolick said.
There doesn't need to be a whole mess of people dining either, Brolick said. If you're out on a charter, they'll cook the fish for one or two people all the way up to and including large groups.
"Maybe you bring in one fillet or you bring in 12 fillets, you can pick and choose," Brolick said.
"It's a win situation for everybody," charter captain Denny Grinold said. "It's great for charter boats because it enhances the customer's experience, it'll create more repeat business. It's also great for the restaurants."
Grinold, the state and federal affairs officer for the Michigan Charter Boat Association, said the journey from concept to realization has been challenging yet exciting.
"It really shows what can happen when government and industry work together to come up with benefits and opportunities for other people," Grinold said. "We're really excited about the program."
Getting so many agencies to come together might have sounded far-fetched at the beginning, but now that it's happened, all involved are excited to see how it effects all aspects of the fish business in Michigan.
"This idea originated with (Michigan DNR Director) Rodney Stokes," Creagh said. "The governor put together a quality of life and these are the types of recreation and agricultural experiences that we will expect to continue to further."
"This is a perfect relationship between the agencies, the local community and the people who come to the shoreline to participate in the great recreational activities here," DNR Deputy Resource Director Bill Moritz said. "It's great to see it coming together."
"I'm a guy who likes being in the kitchen," Moritz said. "This is really a great learning opportunity for people to learn new ways to prepare their catch and what side dishes and beverages go with the fish as well."
See listing of participating charter boats and restaurants at micatchandcook.com.
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