Skip to content

Ask a Local: Charlie Henriksen Founder & Owner of Henriksen Fisheries & The Fish House


For Charlie Henriksen and his crew, days in the commercial fishing business start hours before the sun rises. They prepare and load boats, haul and sort thousands of pounds of whitefish, fillet and process the day’s catch in the late morning, then deliver it to 25-plus county restaurants in the afternoon. And that doesn’t include meeting suppliers who stop to pick up loads bound for Ontario, Chicago, and other major cities.  

When Henriksen moved to Door County 50 years ago to help his family run a small hotel in Ellison Bay, little did he know that he would start Henriksen Fisheries, a commercial fishing business just a few years later, and today would work with his son, Will, and Will’s wife, Kristie. Kristie started selling the family’s daily haul at farmers markets during the pandemic when many restaurants were closed. In 2023, the Henriksens opened a retail store, The Fish House, which sells fresh fillets, fish cakes, dips, seasonings, and products from local vendors.

Q. What is your favorite whitefish recipe?
A. My wife makes a delicious spicy tomato stew, to which I add grilled whole fish. I also like blackened fish tacos and fish frys. There are so many different ways to cook whitefish — ceviche, baked, broiled — and taste it at local restaurants. 

Q. I imagine you’ve seen some amazing sunrises during your time on the water.
A.  Yes, the sunrises from Sand Bay are beautiful! You can enjoy a sunset and a fish dinner on the western shore of Door County at Shoreline Restaurant, Waterfront Restaurant, or Boathouse on the Bay.

Q. Where do you recommend people go for Door County history?
A. Sturgeon Bay’s Door County Maritime Museum has 10 floors of interactive exhibits. It’s the tallest building in Door County, and its observation tower has amazing views.

Q. Which restaurant has become your favorite since moving here?
A.  I’m part of the Sister Bay Lions Club, and we sponsor the fish boil during the Fall Festival. Henriksen Fisheries donates the whitefish, and we all meet up at the fire station to boil it in large kettles. 

Q. How else do you serve the community?
A. I’m on the Department of Natural Resources’ advisory board. This group gives a voice to those of us in the commercial fishing industry. We’ve sponsored studies with universities and researchers who provide expert opinions and have helped us with accurate reporting, which we then share with the state. It’s important that our knowledge about invasive species, reasonable fish quotas, and the like is heard.

Sign up today!

Visit Door County virtually with monthly newsletter updates. Each issue is jam-packed with vacation ideas, special offers, recipes, festivals, events, and more.

The Official Door County Newsletter

View All Articles