TRAVERSE CITY — Commercial fishermen caught fewer whitefish around the northwest lower peninsula this year, and at least one is wondering if fishing the area is worth the effort.

Joel Petersen said he fishes out of Leland on the boat for his family business, Petersen’s Fisheries. He has fished there since 2009 and has seen a steady decline in catches nearly every year since.

Peterson said he caught about 4,000 pounds of whitefish in 2016, compared to around 12,000 pounds in 2015. But he caught plenty of other fish. He and his crew would return to the four trap nets they set to find them filled with 3,000 pounds of lake trout.

As a state-licensed commercial fisherman Petersen can only keep whitefish, which he sells to wholesalers, so the lousy payday for 150 pounds of whitefish per net makes it hard to keep a crew, he said.


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