Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Robert Fritchey
  • The Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen were interviewed in the course of writing a series of books on the mid-1990s flurry of net bans on the Gulf Coast. Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie fishermen were put out of business in 1994; Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods fishermen were put out of business in the 1980s. Both bodies of water are shared with Canada, where vibrant commercial fisheries remain.

Interviewee Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
Jimmy Milewski

Jimmy Milewski was one of Erie’s last fishermen. Milewski’s father had worked in the town’s steel mills and boiler shops; he also netted fish from the lake’s waters during the spring run. Jimmy, 55, learned to fish on his father’s boat as a kid. Later, he bought his own boat and, like his dad, both fished and worked for a wage.

Robert Fritchey Erie, PA New Moon Press Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen
Alvin Johnston

Former Minnesota commercial fisherman and author of regional fishing history, “A Time to Fish and A Time to Dry Nets: Lake of the Woods

Robert Fritchey Warroad, MN New Moon Press Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen
Jerry Mathers

Jerry Mathers was one of eight remaining commercial fishermen working out of the port of Erie, Pennsylvania, when state legislators in 1994 outlawed the use of gill nets.

Robert Fritchey , Erie, PA New Moon Press Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen
Billy Munch

Billy Munch, 44, was a full-time fisherman, one of Erie’s highliners. In addition to fishing, he also ran Munch Fish Company, which his father had started more than half a century before the Pennsylvania Legislature brought it all to an end.  After the state took his gill nets, Munch, of course, wanted to remain on the water and in the fish business.

Robert Fritchey Erie, PA New Moon Press Minnesota and Great Lakes Fishermen

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