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      Hook, line and dinner

      UpNorthLive's Facebook fans voted to hear more about a new program called Catch & Cook.

      Anglers can set out on a charter boat in the morning and enjoy their fresh catch at a restaurant in the afternoon under a new program being launched by the Department of Natural Resources.

      Called Catch & Cook, the program brings together the best of a Michigan day - time on the water, and time at the table with family and friends - while supporting local economies and Michigan businesses.

      Catch & Cook promotes and encourages creative, safe marketing of Michigan fish through a partnership between the charter fishing industry and local restaurants.

      "This program is a wonderful opportunity to promote the the state's $3.7 billion recreational fishing industry and to boost Michigan jobs and Michigan businesses," said Rodney Stokes, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "The Great Lakes are a unique and extraordinary natural resource - Michigan's defining resource. Providing one more opportunity for people to enjoy the lakes goes to the heart of who we are as a state."

      "It creates an unforgettable experience for charter boat customers, generates new business for restaurants as it attracts new and repeat customers while promoting Michigan's Great Lakes fishing and offering opportunities to sample high quality Michigan food products," said Keith Creagh, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. "Catch and Cook highlights all that makes us Pure Michigan. From lake to plate, consumers are experiencing the beauty of our Great Lakes and culminating it with a tasty sampling of our food and agricultural bounty. Pair fresh caught fish with a locally-grown side dish like asparagus or potatoes, and top it off with a Michigan wine or microbrew, and you have a great meal."

      Participating charter operators will assure that fish are cleaned and iced properly and provide documentation of when the catch was made. It is recommended, but not required, that charter captains complete a food handlers class to ensure the safety of participating clients.

      "For charter captains Catch & Cook is a unique opportunity to enhance the charter fishing experience for customers while providing one more avenue for generating business," said Capt. Denny Grinold, state and federal affairs officer for the Michigan Charter Boat Association. "We're thrilled to be a part of this wonderful Michigan program."

      Any licensed restaurant can participate in Catch & Cook, provided the establishment has the equipment, facilities and space to prepare and serve cooked fish. Participating restaurants must be able to meet food law requirements, such as adequate space to process fish, and have the ability to prevent cross contamination between fish and other foods. In addition, the restaurants must be able to maintain product identity and custody. Restaurants have the right to refuse to serve fish if the restaurant believes the fish has not been properly handled.

      Several northern Michigan restaurants are taking part in the program, just click here to check them out!

      "Catch & Cook provides a unique way for Michigan's restaurants to help create awareness about the outstanding food and dining opportunities in the state," said Brian DeBano, president of the Michigan Restaurant Association. "The program not only allows restaurateurs to showcase their culinary skills, but they also can build relationships with local charter fishing boat operators and ultimately expand their customer base."

      For more information about Catch & Cook, including lists of participating restaurants and charter boats, go to www.micatchandcook.com.

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