Craig and Billie Hoopman’s newly opened fish market on Bayfield’s south side features whitefish, lake trout and more catches of the day that the sixth-generation commercial fisherman nets fresh on Lake Superior.
The Hoopmans, both natives of the Bayfield area, mulled the possibility of opening a fish market on Highway 13 for a couple of months after the building’s new owner broached the idea.
Craig Hoopman, who operates four fishing boats year-round, had been selling on the commercial wholesale market. But that market isn’t as strong as it used to be, he said.
Instead, the retail and restaurant-sales business represent “the future,” Hoopman said, and the couple decided to open the doors of Hoop’s Fish Market on June 27.
The catch from Hoopman’s boats makes its way to the store either fresh or by way of Everett Fisheries in Port Wing where it’s smoked. Billie Hoopman said unlike most places, Hoop’s smoked whitefish and lake trout are pin boned. Although they may not be 100 percent boneless, they’re pretty close.
In addition to lake trout and whitefish, Hoop’s also sells smoked salmon (they buy the salmon instead of catching it), and herring and burbot when available. Fish spreads and whitefish livers also fill the display cases.
Craig Hoopman, who loves to cook and takes a gander at spreads whenever he visits fish markets on the road, created the recipes for the flavored spreads.
The original spread is a tweak of a recipe from the
“Town of Russell Cookbook,” but the jalapeno and sun-dried tomato and basil spreads are his concoctions.
Hoopman also makes a strong pitch for the whitefish livers, which bring to mind memories of his first days learning the ropes of the fishing business from his grandparents and parents.
Hoopman actually started working on a boat at the tender age of 6. His family wouldn’t let him on board as a mere kindergartner — he had to wait to see first grade.
And cleaning whitefish livers was the first duty assigned to him. From there he was promoted to dressing fish, and by the time he reached his 14th or 15th birthday, he was running his own boat.
Now Hoopman is passing along part of the fishing business legacy to his son, Wyatt, who works at the market. Their daughter Emily, who is a middle-school science teacher, will help at the store over the summer, but her twin sister Ellie is still in school.