My family has been going to Ludington, Michigan for generations to soak up the beach on the sandy shores of northern Lake Michigan. But only in the past few years have I discovered that Ludington also has one of the best fish shacks in America, Bortell's Fisheries. It has now become a pilgrimage for my family (we WASPs go for pilgrimages!), and this year we managed to get there on a perfect evening. Okay, some tips for Bortells:
1) You will always miss it the first time you try to get there. It's on a local road, shrouded by trees and orchards. And it's really a shack, easy to pass.
2) You can't eat there. Well, there are picnic benches outside the shack, but the real secret is...
3) Go before sunset, get your food, and then head to the park. Right across the two-lane highway is a hidden drive to a small park that is on a bluff looking out to the lake. The view is incredible, and there are picnic tables for your convenience!
Everything is fried fresh for you-- you get to pick from today's catch, and receive it hot and greasy in a paper dish. This year, we whetted our palettes with (from left to right), smelt, walleye, and lake perch (the classic). Perfectly breaded, hot to the touch, this fish wouldn't have been better even if it was dipped in liquid sunset.