Ralph Wilcox started fishing on Lake Superior at the age of 10 in the mid-1950s with his
father and grandfather.
After about 10 years, he took over the family business, incorporating the company as Shirley Wilcox and Sons Fisheries Inc. in 1977. He began selling the Lake Superior fish they harvested fresh, frozen, and smoked to a wide variety of wholesale and retail markets.
In 1994, Ralph and his family added a restaurant to their historic homestead property on Lake Superior, and in 2004, they added a retail fish market.
Since 1984, after being appointed by Michigan’s then-governor William Milliken, Ralph has served as an official “advisor” on the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, advising the Commission on matters important to the Great Lakes fisheries, including sea lamprey control, invasive species, habitat and water level impacts.
Ralph is also past president and board member of the Michigan Fish Producers Association; has worked with the Sea Grant board of Directors during its inception in Michigan, and lobbied to acquire additional state funding for Michigan State University’s Cooperative Extension Board.
Ralph is a long-time member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indian’s Conservation Committee, which is the first level in the regulation and management of the tribe’s treaty-based commercial and subsistence fisheries, and one of the five member tribes on the Chippewa/Ottawa Resource Authority board.
Having been a commercial fisherman for the last 61 years, and living on Lake Superior his entire life, Ralph has deep knowledge and understanding of Great Lakes history, fisheries, and future threats to this traditional way of life.