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Decades of dedication: One Door County family's commitment to maintaining its fishing business for generations

Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 31, 2023
  • Video shows Baileys Harbor Fish Company catching Whitefish.
  • There are not many family run commercial fisheries left, and it takes a lot of hard work.
  • Todd Stuth estimates about 50% of their fish remain in the county to sustain the local fish consuming public, but they also ship across the nation and even internationally, sending caviar to Scandinavian countries.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Four generations of fisherman have kept a tradition alive. I’m your Door County neighborhood reporter Katlyn Holt and we're in the water with Baileys Harbor Fish company to see their family business.

"We've opted to make it our life and our lifestyle to continue the family business," said Stuth.

Todd Stuth has been fishing with his wife Carin since the mid 1990s.

"This business is… just because of the sacrifices you make and time and family and everything else. It's difficult to find other like-minded individuals," said Stuth.

The family business, formerly known as Hickey Bros Fisheries, now called Baileys Harbor Fish Company has been around for more than 100 years and is one of a few family run commercial fisheries left.

"I believe in Door County there are three left. There are a few other smaller operations that do fish but there are three full-time year-round fisheries that operate pretty much 12 months a year," said Stuth.

Carin's father, Dennis Hickey, operated Hickey Bros Fisheries with his brother Jeffrey. They bought the current Anclam Road property and built the dock which is still the home port of the business.

They operate on quotas. Each fisherman is allotted a percentage of allowable catch which is based on weight. Stuth says viability depends on sustainability.

"It's usually I would say four to six hours on the water and then another four to six ours in the processing facility," said Stuth.

April through October is their main fishing season, where Stuth estimates the catch is in excess of a couple hundred thousand pounds of Whitefish annually.

Stuth's brother, Tate, has been working with them for about 20 years and helps to manage the fish market.

He says most people probably don't understand how much work goes into the business.

"How long it actually takes and all the steps that a fish actually goes through before it winds up on your plate," said Tate Stuth.

Todd Stuth estimates about 50% of their fish remain in the county to sustain the local fish consuming public, however they also ship across the nation and even internationally, sending caviar to Scandinavian countries.

For Stuth, he says the passion to keep going comes from something as simple as getting to see the sun rise every day.

"I will work until Ican no longer work, and my kids want to do this. I have three boys, and iIwould believe that at least one of the three will still want to carry it out so I hope to help them do it long into the future," said Stuth.

The fishing season ends on October 31st for spawning season but will be back on December first. In Baileys Harbor, Katlyn Holt, NBC 26.