October 23, 2014

AG museum packed for fishing, boat business recollections

Tim Barnum
A sign from the Ed Wise Fishery, which is hanging up in the Arenac County Historical Museum in AuGres.
Tim Barnum
Casey Wise shows a painting of the Ed Wise fishery cook camp, where he lived.
Photo
1
2
Posted

AuGRES — Casey Wise’s family was an important piece of the Point Lookout puzzle during the height of the fishery and commercial fishing industry and sold boats after the fishing bubble burst. Casey shared memories, anecdotes and information with approximately 70 people at the Arenac County Historical Museum in AuGres on Thursday night.

Casey’s tales of AuGres lore, which he told while gripping an unlit cigar that he called his podium, started with his grandfather’s acquisition (Casey says he isn’t sure how it happened) of a Bayport Fishery Company fishery on the Saginaw Bay in 1930’s, which was renamed the Ed Wise Fishery. By the time Casey’s family moved to Point Lookout in AuGres in 1948, when he was four, Casey says the business was booming.

“During that time period, the fishing was tremendous,” he said. “It (fishing) was absolutely white gold.”

While fishermen were out scooping up whitefish and herring, Casey says he was growing up in the fishery’s cook camp, where he battled several bouts of pneumonia.

“It was pretty rough living up there,” Casey said.

Besides the cook camp, which Casey’s family called home, the fishery also included an icehouse, fish house, smoke house and bunkhouse.

Casey says the bunkhouse was always interesting to him growing up.

“Men that worked there, and lived there, had written their names and all sorts of information on those walls,” he said.

But the fishing industry, according to Casey, began to decline in the 50’s and that’s when his father opened a Chris-Craft Boat dealership, specializing in selling the motor-powered wooden boats. The business also specialized in marine contracting – building docks, hoists and sea walls.

To raise extra money for supplies for the business, Casey says he and others at the business sold smelt at the singing bridge.

“We would go up there at 8 p.m. and we wouldn’t sell any smelt until four in the morning,” he said. “People didn’t catch smelt for sport, they smelted as an excuse to get drunk.”

Casey is also a college teacher and an artist. His art can be seen at caseywise.org.

What were the people like who worked for Wise's father? Are there any remnants of the fishery left? Read the Sept. 2 issue of the Independent to find out.

Copyright © 2014, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.