MUSKEGON, MI – 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.
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.