The sun in San Francisco can be so deceiving. Despite a picture-perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge, I was freezing in strong winds that had literally just come from the arctic. Despite this I was intent on learning what kind of seafood lie yards away from the bars, restaurants and attractions that I frequent any given day in my home city.
After my first tour with Kirk Lombard I couldn’t help but be curious about his Inner City Fishing Tour, which promises to show you what edibles you can find on the urban shores of San Francisco (for better or worse!). Luckily my girlfriend was reading my mind and surprised me with this romantic Valentine’s day gift.
While the last tour focused on clams and other mud dwellers, this one focuses on whatever the hell you can get. Among the easiest you’ll find are mussels and limpets stuck to the rocks along Marina Green. With a little bit of work, you could catch rock crab, herring and even Monkeyface eels.
Like anyone, I was at first a bit skeptical about the safety of seafood from a bay so notorious for it’s mercury, PCB and DDT levels (among other toxins). However, the overriding theme of this tour was to dispel any misgivings you may have about eating what you catch here. Kirk made several points on this:
- Observing where bay mussels gave way to ocean mussels, suggesting that more fresh ocean water goes through this area
- That crabs actually retain so little mercury in their meat that you can eat 5 servings a week
- Some fish like halibut, salmon and herring spend most of the year in the ocean, and only come into the Bay to spawn
- Not every sewer pipe to the bay is used. The one we were working by hasn’t been used in years
Despite learning a lot, we certainly weren’t catching a lot. After a fairly dramatic delivery of bait by boat, Kirk had cast out a snare to try and catch some crab (See: Catching crab from shore). Without anything to show for 20 minutes of effort, we moved on and actually found a couple of them, tauntingly waiting in a quiet area of the harbor. We were able to coax one out to play, under the curious eyes of the increasing tourist traffic.
We continued down the jetty to try our hand at poke-polling for Monkeyface eels. This technique involves sticking a baited hook attached to a stick under rocks, and pissing the eel off into biting. Unfortunately we had no luck with this either, despite staying after class.
The highlight for me came with learning how to use a cast net. It’s one of those things where if no one shows you, you’ll look like an idiot for quite a while trying to figure it out. Luckily I got the hang of it pretty quick and will have to make the investment in one sometime soon!
If this stuff (and baseball) interests you, you should definitely check out Kirk’s Blog and his tours sometime.