When you bring a fish in—we do mainly whitefish, lake trout and chubs—you dress it and then wash it. Then we brine for 12 hours. The brine is the secret recipe part for us. It’s a salt brine, and after 12 hours you pull them out, rinse them off with water and put them on the racks. We build the fire in the smokehouse—we mainly smoke with maple—and then roll the fish racks right in and shut the doors. The FDA requires that the fish are at 145 degrees for a half hour, but we keep them at 180 degrees for an hour. Our process hasn’t changed since my grandfather began it, and we’ve been on this site since 1945.
Absolutely. We have customers come in and say, “my grandfather used to bring me in here,” and they are bringing their kids in.
My favorite is whitefish—definitely with beer. And the smoked whitefish pâté, our pâté with crackers and beer—nothing better in the summer.—J.S.
John Cross Fisheries, 209 Belvedere, Charlevoix.
Winter hours: 9 a.m.– 5 p.m., 6 days a week. Closed Sundays. 231-547-2532.