The Fish House

The end of any fishing day comes at three or four or later in the afternoon—at the fish house. Although at one time there were a dozen or so wholesalers along the western Lake Erie shore alone, by the time of our fieldwork there were only three—Kishman Fish Company in Vermilion (the oldest existing fish house in the area, which closed after the 1983 fishing season to make way for riverfront condominiums—see photo 9), Shoreline Fish Company in Sandusky, and Port Clinton Fish Company in Port Clinton. In the middle or late afternoon, trap net and gill net boats and seiners’ trucks arrive at the fish houses, and the fish they bring, al ready sorted by species, are rapidly and efficiently conveyor-belted into the building, boxed, iced, weighed, labeled, and prepared for shipment via truck to fish markets, restaurants, throughout Ohio and the larger region. Whenever the pace of work at the fish house is slack (which is most of the time except the afternoon), there is much lounging about, joking, card playing, horse-betting, griping, and storytelling.

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