Embrace local eating this season: Three resources for finding Wisconsin and Great Lakes fish

Spring has sprung in Wisconsin, bringing with it warmer days, longer evenings and the return of farmer’s markets. Our state’s plentiful markets offer not only a chance to buy local goodies—from colorful produce to cheeses, meat, honey and more—but also a way to get acquainted with the hard-working people who produce our food.

Farmers’ markets may also spur us to think about other food-related goals we might have, such as eating more healthfully or supporting local and regional economies.

Three online resources can help you embrace similar food goals when serving fish. Through these websites you can find fish caught by commercial fishers on the Great Lakes and fish raised sustainably by farmers in our region.

Here’s a quick roundup of the three:

Eat Wisconsin Fish:

Sharon Moen showed off her grilling skills during a live webinar hosted by Ohio Sea Grant in summer 2021. Moen prepared fish kabobs using Wisconsin fish.

You could call EatWisconsinFish.org the “OG” of fish-finding resources in the Great Lakes region. An initiative of Wisconsin Sea Grant, the project has been around for years, but new life was breathed into it with the 2020 hire of Outreach Specialist Sharon Moen.

Last summer, the site’s map got a makeover thanks to intern Hunter Goldman, an Ashland College student. The interactive map shows places in Wisconsin where food fish are grown, harvested, processed and more.

This summer, a new intern, Emma Kraco, will assist Moen. Kraco, a recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee, will help Moen improve the map and share the stories of food-fish producers in Wisconsin.

Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder:

In fall 2021, Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder joined the mix. While it drew inspiration from Eat Wisconsin Fish, its geographic range is broader, as are the intended purposes of the fish.

The Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder logo shows two fish in a stylized grocery shopping cart.

Attendees can learn more about Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder at a May 26 webinar.

While Eat Wisconsin Fish focuses on fish for your dinner plate, Great Lakes Fish Finder includes species for pond stocking, bait and ornamental purposes. And as it name suggests, its geographic swath covers all of the Great Lakes states.

Take a tour of Fresh Fish Finder through a webinar at 11:30 a.m. (central) on Thursday, May 26. Called “Finding Fish for Food or Fun: Exploring the Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder,” the event is hosted by the Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative and will spotlight several regional producers, including Wisconsin’s Red Cliff Fish Co., run by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Bayfield, along Lake Superior. Register for the event here.

Eat Midwest Fish:

This site’s map pinpoints farms raising food fish and shellfish in the Upper Midwest. It launched in early 2021 as a joint effort of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and other partners, including the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center. Like Eat Wisconsin Fish, the site includes tasty recipe ideas, such as bluegill chowder and oven-fried perch.

With these resources at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to find local fish (unless, perhaps, you catch your own—also a fine choice). Bon appetit!