Sea forager Kirk Lombard serving up fresh fish 

click to enlarge Kirk Lombard
  • Courtesy photo
  • Among San Francisco fisherman Kirk Lombard’s many projects is a new community supported seafood business that allows people to purchase fresh fish on a subscription-style basis.
Many fish lovers eat the ever-popular Dungeness crab in winter. But what about smelt? Herring? Prickleback?

There’s plenty of fish in the sea for the eating, even in winter, and Kirk Lombard’s community-supported seafood business is making it easier to find.

The San Francisco resident, fisherman and musician began Sea Forager Seafood in the fall. It works much like community supported agriculture, in which subscribers pay in advance for a parcel of fish to be picked up weekly, or every other week, as preferred.

Customers can choose between fish-only parcels — for those squeamish or allergic to bivalves — or a mix of fish and shellfish. Membership includes recipes and tips for preparation. In essence, Lombard offers answers for those stymied at the local seafood counters as they try to choose ethically harvested or caught fish.

“Many of our fisheries are in serious trouble, and while people have good intentions, most don’t have the time or interest to find out which seafood is sustainable. But my whole life is about fish, so I’m happy to do the work and deliver not just ethical seafood, but the story behind it — from the fish to the fisherman and the recipes to make it delicious,” Lombard says.

Lombard has strict standards for his sourcing, stressing hyper-local fish caught without habitat destruction or bycatch, unwanted fish caught while trying to harvest other fish. Farmed fish are raised without chemicals, medicines or introduction of non-native species into local fisheries.

Besides Dungeness crab, winter parcels — which may be picked up on Wednesdays in San Francisco and Fridays in Oakland — may include sustainably farmed sturgeon from the Central Valley; trout from McFarland Springs; and smoked fish like albacore tuna, locally caught last summer. Smelt, herring and sand dabs caught by hook and line or dip net will also be featured during the winter months.

The boxes also may offer pole-caught fish, such as the monkey-faced eel, which Lombard is famous for catching. Because the fish live in rocky places, catching them requires luring them out of hiding by waving bait in front of their dwellings, one by one.

Lombard doesn’t just bring fresh fish to interested eaters.

For several years, Lombard has been sharing his passion for catching what he called “underutilized” fish — fish that are small and plentiful, not as much in danger of being overfished, and less toxic with heavy metals — through teaching.

On Sea Forager Tours, people learn to fish with small-scale nets and poles, dig for clams and harvest mussels. Using a commercially registered sea kayak, his fishing trips also include salty sea songs. For a commercial fisherman, his effect on the ecosystem is light.

For details on Sea Forager Seafood and Sea Forager Tours, visit or call (415) 368-6634.

About The Author

Cynthia Salaysay

Cynthia Salaysay

Dining writer for The S.F. Examiner.
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