fishing (101)

Jack O'Neill, 1923-2017

Photo by Dave McGuire: Martinis at Jack O’Neill’s cliffside home in Santa Cruz in 2013. L-R, Betty Van Dyke, Richard Novak, Jack, Lloyd

I graduated from high school in San Francisco in 1952. I had to make up some grades in order to get admitted to Stanford, so I took some morning classes at a private high school and worked as an office boy at an insurance company in the afternoons. Each day I had a couple of hours off, so I started going to the beach.

Kelly’s Cove is the beach right next to the Cliff House at Ocean Beach, and I met a bunch of guys who were starting to bodysurf there. Cliff Kamaka, a Hawaiian who was a lifeguard at the nearby Fleishacker Pool* had taught the boys the art of bodysurfing. Charley Grimm, Rod Lundquist, John Stonum, Jim Fisher, Bill Hickey — and Jack O’Neill — were some of the gang.

The water averaged in the low ’50s, so you had to really be motivated to endure the cold. They’d build a big fire on the beach to warm up after getting out of the water, and had constructed driftwood windbreaks that you could get inside to lay in the sun.

Jack was working for a company that sold firefighting equipment. He and his wife Marge and their 6 kids lived in an apartment on Sloat Blvd., across from the zoo, a few blocks from the beach. His first attempt at staying warm was a “dry suit,” as used by divers. It was thin rubber. Jack bought one He showed it to me and he was wearing long woolen underwear underneath it. Where it might have worked for diving in calm water, it didn’t work at all in the turbulent ocean. Water would come in at the sleeves, legs, and neck.

Jack didn’t invent the wetsuit. According to Wikipedia, “Hugh Bradner, a University of California, Berkeley physicist invented the modern wetsuit in 1952…” The US Navy then developed wetsuits for their divers and the first ones were being sold in stores. The wetsuit was neoprene and allowed the water to get next to your body, but kept it warm. Before they started lining them with nylon (maybe Jack’s invention), they were difficult to get on, so we had to coat our skin with corn starch so they would slide on.

I may be the only person in the world who knows this, but one day Jack went to Roos Brothers, the big department store on Market at Powell in San Francisco, and bought a wetsuit in their sporting goods department. He took it home, took the measurements off it, and returned it the next day. Voilá, he had the pattern for his first wetsuit. I know this because I stopped by to see him the day he brought it home. Like Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but perfected it and made it available to millions, so it was with Jack and wetsuits.

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Blue Whale Lunge Feeding

A drone was used to capture a blue whale swimming in Monterey Bay. Unique shots of whale taking mouthfuls of water.
Check out the photographer: https://www.slatermoore.photography

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Hunting, Foraging, Gardening, Cooking Wild Foods - Hank Shaw via Kirk Lombard

I found this great website via Kirk Lombard, the Sea Forager:

HI THERE!

My name is Hank Shaw.

“I write. I cook. I fish, dig earth, forage, ferment things, brew beer, raise plants, live for food and chase God’s creatures. I drink Scotch or Bud, eat burgers or dine on caviar, depending on my mood or what day of the week it happens to be. I spend my days thinking about new ways to cook and eat anything that walks, flies, swims, crawls, skitters, jumps – or grows. This is my story.”

https://honest-food.net/

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Monterey Clipper with Christmas Lights

My brother Bob’s Monterey Schooner, docked in Tiburon, Calif.

Description of these boats on Wikipedia:

“The Monterey Clipper has long been considered part of the local fishing fleet to the San Francisco Bay Area, the Monterey Bay Area and east to the Sacramento delta. The original hull design was introduced into the area by Italians in the late 1860s. The design came from Genoese lateen-rigged sailboats, known as silenas, then later referred to as San Francisco feluccas.

The feluccas were at first used to gather shrimp in the SF bay, but when this fishery was abandoned to the Chinese, they gillnetted for local bay fish, trolled for ocean fish, and pulled up the famous Dungeness crabs. During this period, they made up about two-thirds of the 85 or so fishing boats that served the city. Later, as the fleet grew, about 50 boats serviced just the crab fisheries.By 1890, there were about 1000 feluccas in the wharf. Read More …

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The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast

Anyone who fishes (or clams or collects anything from the California coast) will love this book. In fact, anyone on the west coast of the USA, from Baja California up to BC, will learn how to catch, gather, clean, and cook fish, clams, mussels, eels, crabs, and seaweed from this witty and complete fishing compendium. Kirk Lombard worked for 7 years as an observer for The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission before becoming “The Sea Forager” in the San Francisco Bay Area. He conducts fishing classes, does demonstrations, and sells sustainable seafood. IYou can get info on all his coastal activities and buy the book at: https://www.seaforager.com/

Full disclosure: I’ve been to one of Kirk’s fishing demos, attended a seminar on making pickled herring, and went fishing with him for night smelt (caught 15 lbs. that night, netting them in the surf).) I’ve gotten a ton of useful info from him, including tonight, when I used his technique for getting the skin off horseneck clam siphons (slit lengthwise, soak in warm water for 10 min.) before making clam fritters (below, left).

He tells you how to catch salmon, halibut, rockfish, striped bass, and 8-10 other kinds of fish, how to gather 15 different types of shellfish, how to pickle seaweed (I’ve got a jar of pickled kelp in the frig right now, and I put ground-up dried seaweed on omelets, potatoes, anything hot). He’s big on the small fish in the area — herring, anchovies, smelt, grunion, and mackerel — because they’re low on the food chain, super healthy, and take pressure off the popular fish.

He’s got a sense of humor, plays in a band (his oldest kid is named Django), and has fun with his work and teaching.

The book is very nicely illustrated by Leighton Kelly.

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Into San Francisco Early This Morning

I left around 6AM, stars were out, it was cold. My MO for these early morning rides into the city: cup of fresh ginger tea, a bit of power plant in Ploom, the Michael Des Barres program on Sirius radio (for which I thank you, Lew!), iPhone ready for whatever pops up.

This morning as I drove the windy road, I counted 54 lights out in the sea, crab season just opened, and it might be a good one. Neighbor fisherman Todd pulled 35 pots the 1st day, got 700 lbs. dungeness crab (we had fresh crab with 1-hour-old porcini pasta, + my brother’s deep red Syrah wine last night, ahem).

I was driving my Toyota truck (picking up lumber today) when, on a tight turn, a white Porsche, came roaring up behind me, didn’t hesitate, whipped around me with a roar, crossing the double line, baby — you go!

It’s always a thrill to go thru the tunnel and see the Golden GateBridge. This is my bridge; I’ve been to the top of it, and crossed under it in a kayak — and this the city that I love to this day, 81 years later. I start the day with a latte and brioche at Cafe Roma, old-school coffee house in North Beach, spend a few hours writing, editing, blogging, listening to music on earphones before venturing out for the day’s chores.

This was playing as I went through the tunnel:

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