Fishing has always been a natural part of life in and around Frankfort. The Ottawa and Chippewa fished here, as did the first European settlers and everybody who came here since. As soon as settlers began arriving in significant numbers, a commercial fishing industry began. Trout, whitefish and chubs were the primary fish harvested from Lake Michigan. At first they fished with sail boats and lifted nets by hand. After the harbor entrance was improved in the early 1870’s, steam tugs brought in the daily catch. By 1925, fourteen commercial fishing concerns operated out of Frankfort. Only three of those remained in the early 1950’s. Although the commercial fishery declined in the 1960s due to overfishing and competition from invasive species, sports fishing persevered. Fishermen pack the pier in spring for the perch and salmon runs. In autumn they follow the salmon run out on the big lake, into the Bay and, eventually, up the Betsie River. In winter, they skid fish shanties onto the frozen Betsie Bay or nearby Crystal Lake to fish through the ice.
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