Newago Fisheries

Newago Fish Market greets visitors just as they enter the town of Bayfield driving up Hwy.13 from Washburn, Wisconsin. The small shop, barn red with white trim, sits on the curve next to Oly’s Barber Shop.

Cathy Newago mans the family fish shop, Newago Fish Market, spring through fall, selling fresh and smoke Lake Superior fish as well as a variety of fish spreads.

Open seasonally, spring through the Bayfield Apple Festival weekend in early October, the shop is usually manned by Cathy Newago, shopkeeper and maker of delicious smoked fish spreads.

Cathy’s husband, Alan, a Bad River tribal member and retired commercial fisherman, also helps with the shop these days, leaving the seafaring part of the business to his son Joseph Alan, named after his grandfather, Joseph Charles, a small boat commercial fisherman, who fished primarily off Madeline Island.

Alan’s grandfather, Jeffery, also fished for a living, but was primarily a spearfisherman.

Fishing has long been a way of life for the Newagos, and Alan and his brothers, Joe, David and Tom, have all relied it at some point during their lives. Today, both Tom and Dave, still ply the waters of Lake Superior for fish, while Alan’s son Joe runs his own tug, the JAYJAYCEE, full-time, and cousin Steve, fishes part-time out of his tug, Nori Joe. It looks like commercial fishing will continue as a Newago lifestyle in the future with Alan’s grandson, Joe, already helping out substantially on the JAYJAYCEE and loving it.

Alan didn’t get serious about fishing until the early 1980s. He worked in other fields primarily until then, although he did some small boat fishing to supplement his income before he purchased his first tug in 1983.

Joe Newago
With the JayJayCee docked at Bodin's Fishery, Captain Joe Newago assisted by Bad River Fisheries Technician Ed Leoso, unloads boxes of iced fillets, while young Joe receives the boxes on shore.

Since that time, he and Cathy focused primarily on fishing for a living, with Cathy helping out both on the boat and on the ice in those early years. The work is frequently cold and hard, but there's something about the open water, the expanse of the lake and the independence that keeps fishing families fishing.

Alan and Cathy fished out of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay for a number of years and then headed to Houghton, Michigan to fish in the Michigan waters of Lake Superior. It was there they started marketing their own fish through a fish shop, with Cathy running the shop, assisting with the processing and also developing some of the delicious recipes for her unique and wonderful fish spreads.

Their son Joe, once graduated, came aboard the enterprise in a full-time fashion, and soon his wife, Tammy, was also helping out in the shop in the Houghton area.

About five years ago, they returned back to the Chequamegon Bay area and started up their current shop with son Joe running his tug, the JAYJAYCEE, and supplying fish to the shop. All the family members involved in the enterprise have gone through the HACCP training and Cathy, along with daughter-in-law Tammy, keeps the shop gleaming.

They are able to pinbone and flash freeze the fish, using equipment available through GLIFWC’s ANA grant, so they deliver a high quality fresh or flash-frozen, boneless fillet for their customers’ enjoyment.

Their shop also features a variety of smoked fish—lake trout, herring, whitefish, smoked with a variety of brines—so the choices get difficult. The same is true of the fish spreads made from smoked trout and whitefish chunks. Some of the specialties include smoked fish with sour cream and chives, tomato-parmesan, jalapeƱo, or just plain. Joe also supplies local restaurants as well as sells to Bodin’s Fishery, a local wholesale outlet.

Crewing on his father’s tug, Alan’s grandson, Joe, already has considerable commercial fishing experience under his belt and enjoys the fishing lifestyle. He already knows what he’s going to do after high school. You guessed it. He’s going to fish for a living, like his dad, Joe; his grandfather, Alan; his great grandfather, Joseph, and his great, great grandfather, Jeffery, did.

For more information during winter months call (715) 779-3416. (Article found in the 2006-2007 Winter Mazina'igan)