At left: crab snare; you toss it out with a fishing rod, wait 15 minutes and reel it in. It snags crabs in the loops.
Yesterday I went on a 3-hour tour with Kirk Lombard on the shores of San Francisco Bay. He demonstrated catching crabs with crab snares, how to throw a net to catch herring, and how to catch eels. Kirk is passionate about the ocean, sustainability, and getting your own food. He leads tours of various types, takes people clamming or herring-catching, and has a seafood subscription service. He says there are numerous small fish in this area — smelt, sand dabs, herring, sardines — that are overlooked by commercial interests and perfect for the get-it-yourselfer.
I’ve poked around on the local coast all my life and come from a family of fishermen — all sport fishermen except for my grandfather, who had a bait and tackle shop in SF around the turn of the century — but I learned a ton of things. There’s a 300-foot deep channel under the Golden Gate Bridge carved out in old times by the Sacramento River. You can make a pudding from a type of seaweed. Fish that is touted as “local” often comes from boats that spend over a month at sea, with 65-mile long longlines.
There were two 12-year-old boys in the group and he was the perfect teacher. He got them reeling in crabs, throwing a herring net correctly, and poke-poling for eels. If you’ve got kids in the Bay Area,this is a wonderful learning experience. If you’re a city-dweller interested in bringing in some of your own fresh seafood, check him out. 6-star.