The Janice Sue and the Joy are Great Lakes Commercial fish tugs and are owned and operated by the Fishtown Preservation Society as part of its mission to preserve commercial fishing heritage on the Great Lakes. The Janice Sue is a gill net tug and was built in Wisconsin in 1958 for Leland fisherman Louis Steffens.? The Joy is a trap net tug and was built in Leelanau County in 1981 for Ross Lang.
The Joy and Janice Sue are fully operational commercial fish tugs. They fish spring through fall, generally heading out early in the morning once or twice a week to check the nets. In 2010 the Joy caught around 61,500 lbs of our 62,000 whitefish quota and Janice Sue caught 1400 lbs of our 90,000 chub quota.
The shanties in Fishtown date from 1900 through the mid-1990s. White settlers came to Leland in the early 1850s, though Native Americans lived and fished here before that time. The name ?Fishtown? was not used to describe the fishing area of Leland until the 1940s.
In 2004, the Carlson family decided that they wanted to sell their Fishtown property. The community was concerned that the property would appeal to developers who might not value the heritage of the site. The Fishtown Preservation Society was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit to raise money to purchase Fishtown for the benefit of the public. FPS bought the property from Carlsons in 2007, but is still raising funds to complete the purchase. FPS is conducting research of the site?s history and rehabilitating the weathered buildings to save the experience of Fishtown for future generations.
There are two smokehouses in Fishtown. The small smokehouse is used to smoke chubs and beef jerky. The large smokehouse is used to smoke whitefish, salmon, and trout. Carlson?s will also be happy to smoke salmon caught on charter boat excursions. In the off season, they?ll smoke your Thanksgiving turkey!
The Cove and Falling Waters Lodge are part of Fishtown, though they are not owned or operated by the Fishtown Preservation Society.FPS owns the property on the north side of the river from the eastern edge of the Cove and Rick?s Caf? through the Carlson?s Fisheries building, which includes eight shanties and assorted out buildings. All of the buildings on the south side of the river are privately owned. FPS rents the shanty and dock area owned by the Leelanau Historical Society as part of its fishing operations.
Dogs are allowed with some conditions. Please keep in mind that the space in Fishtown is often quite crowded, so we ask that you keep your dog on a 6 foot leash, pick up after them and do not leave them unattended.
The river is not open to swimming. The swift current and working boats makes it a dangerous place for recreational swimming. We recommend that visitors go to Van?s Beach, accessible just south of Van?s Garage in Leland.
Lots! The FPS commercial fish tugs catch whitefish and chubs and the sports fishermen catch spotted lake and brown trout and Chinook, Coho, and steelhead salmon.
Fishtown is part of the unincorporated community of Leland. Fishtown was included in the Leland Historic District of the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.The FPS property in Fishtown has more recently been recognized as the Fishtown Historic District, a zoning designation to help guide the preservation of the FPS property. Eight different entities own property in Fishtown, though only the FPS property is currently part of the zoning district. Fishtown makes Leland unique and is considered a major attraction in Northern Michigan.
This is something that we wish we knew more definitively. Fishtown is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On a busy summer day thousands of people pass through Fishtown. Even in winter dozens of people explore the docks.
The Fishtown Preservation Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit that depends upon grants, foundations and other public donations for all of its operations. Though FPS receives minimal rent from the businesses in Fishtown, these are all private entities. To preserve its past and present, Fishtown needs your support.