A drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior is not complete without a stop at one or all of the smoked fish shops along the way. For travelers, smoked fish is a flavorful treat to bring to a campsite, cabin, or lakeside picnic. Shops specialize in local fish caught from the waters of the big lake, naturally, including trout, whitefish, herring, and ciscoes. At least one shop owner catches most of his fish, too. Some shops also smoke imported fish, such as tuna, halibut, and Alaskan salmon, and sell other smoked items such as shrimp and beef jerky.
Smoking fish is an art that, for some north shore shop owners, has been passed down through generations. Ask a proprietor what makes their fish the best, and you’ll hear about special brines, wood fire techniques, and of course the quality of Lake Superior fish.
There are a handful of smoked fish shops along the north shore, including Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth, Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse in Knife River, and Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais. As for who’s got the best smoked fish, travelers are advised to take a drive and decide for themselves. Some shops are open year-round, while others are open from spring to the end of the year.