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28 responses to “Shark Fishing in San Francisco Bay”

  1. Carolina Rig

    While lauching a boat out of Sausalito on my lone visit to SF Bay back in 2005, I crossed paths with a charter boat captain returning from a day fishing for stripers and leopard sharks. At the time I was a bit turned off by the idea of anyone targeting and keeping sharks…then the captain handed me a chunk of smoked leopard shark he had left over from lunch. Long story short, I eat shark now.

  2. Adam Stevens

    So glad you posted about this!! I wonder if the spiny dog fish you mentioned, are like the dog fish we have up here in the Puget Sound…

    If so…

  3. Phillip

    Nice! I used to love to load up on sharks in NC. Sandbar sharks, spiny dogfish, blacktips, and the occasional bull shark made up the usual suspects. OK, since I mostly fished out of small boats (14-18′), loading up usually meant a couple of four-footers or one big shark. Pulling an eight-foot blacktip into a 14′ jon-boat made for quite the adventure… even after dragging it backwards by the tail. You didn’t do that more than once or twice in a morning.

    In the last couple of years before I left NC (early 90s), the shark catch really started drying up. My sure-fire spots stopped producing altogether, due to overfishing and shrimp trawlers. It’s still way too common to see fishermen pull a shark in, curse, kill it, and dump it over the rail.

    It’s kind of a shame, because shark is my favorite eating fish. I love fresh dolphin, and it’s hard to beat a grouper, speared in the morning and cooked up for dinner… but there’s something about the taste and texture of shark meat that really works for me.

    Glad to hear there’s still some semblance of a shark fishery around here.

  4. jon w

    I’m speaking as someone who has mostly given up the big fish high on the food chain – isn’t small a good thing as far as mercury and other contaminants?

  5. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)

    I don’t know if I have ever eaten shark. And it has been many moon since I have reeled in my own fish. Loved your account. Makes me want to put up the ‘Gone Fishin’ sign.

  6. Paula

    The very first time I ever had shark was a mako. It had been grilled medium rare, like a steak, and it was a*w*e*s*o*m*e.

    Every shark dish since then has been entirely forgettable. But not that first one.

  7. Kevin

    Really? Gutting them asap solves whatever issues I’ve heard about? I’ve caught a lot of dogfish off the west coast up here, but heard they needed to be soaked, and that only certain adventurous individuals would eat them. Glad to hear that may be a load of crap.

  8. Joshua

    What a beautiful fish! I love knowing that things like that swim around.

    They sound tasty, too.

  9. The enigmatic lobster — Starving off the Land

    […] bloodstream contaminates the meat, so it’s destined to be lobster bait. (For more on sharks, read Hank Shaw’s post at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. If we all ask him nicely, I’m hoping he’ll tell us how to gut […]

  10. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    How timely is this?! It was just yesterday that I pulled up a spiny dogfish and popped it in the cooler, determined to experiment with it. When I got it home, though, I discovered that it had to be gutted and bled right away, or the uric acid in its blood (sharks don’t have a proper urinary tract; they pee through their skin) will contaminate the meat. So that dogfish is lobster bait, but another should be easy to come by (we threw several back).

    Here’s the thing. I have no idea how to gut and bleed a shark. Last night, looking at that dofish, regretting my mishandling of it, I actually said to my husband, “I’m going to have to ask Hank. I bet he knows.”

    Sure nuff. So I’m asking. How do you process the thing?

  11. Delights and Prejudices » News Feed: August 3

    […] Catching and eating leopard sharks in San Francisco. [Hunter Angler Gardener Cook] […]

  12. Carolina Rig

    I remember a red hull…can’t remember his name. Nice guy. He went out of his way to fill me in on the history of the SF Bay fishery.

  13. Phillip

    Tamar, I’ve gotta concur with Hank. It was several sharks before I learned that the ammonia smell (uric acid) wasn’t a necessary part of shark fishing. I used to toss them in the cooler, fish all day (in NC heat), and clean fish at night. I’d soak them in milk overnight and the meat was always fresh and sweet. The biggest problem I had was that the smell often lingered in my nose (or in my imagination), so I’d smell it even though my dinner guests didn’t. I seldom ate sharks the same day I caught them.

    Once I learned what I was doing wrong, though, that ceased to be a big deal. Gutting them over the rail is definitely the way to go… and done right away, it makes excellent chum for more sharks!

  14. Andrew in Canada

    Awesome post.

    Re: shark for food, and specifically spiny dogfish, I’d always like what I saw (massive amounts of white, boneless meat) but not what I tasted (urea). Hunted around the net and came up with instructions for processing shark, based out of Australia. It works, and looks like this:

    As soon as the shark/dogfish is in the boat, cut down through the back of the head, through the spine, until you reach the gut (from the top). Turn your knife back and cut along the top of the gut cavity all the way back, so that the entire gut cavity and gut is cut out. Of course, this take care of killing the fish. You can save the belly flaps because apparently they are fantastic smoked and eaten alongside a cold lager…it’s a German thing.

    Cut off the fins but not the tail; the tail makes a good handle for skinning. So long as the shark is fresh, it’s easy to skin, but if you leave it past the twitching stage, which lasts about twenty minutes sans head, the skin gets very hard to remove. It comes off in strips like you’re ripping sandpaper.

    You’ll be left with a meat “post” that’s very tasty. As an aside, I turned mine into fish cakes by boiling the chunks in water and then skimming off the extremely gelatinous grey fat with a steak knife. I then flaked the fish and mashed it, seasoned, binder, yadda yadda. What pissy taste remained came off with the fat.

    Next one will be turned into shark fin soup. BTW this is an interesting one for kids and everybody, because the heart will beat and the meat will twitch for hours afterwords.

  15. brian_in_gib

    nice post Hank. Here in Gibraltar we east dogfish in ‘adobo’. The fish is marinated in garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar, paprika, cumin and oregano, then dusted with flour and deep fried. tasty!

  16. brian_in_gib

    incidentally Hank, a while back you asked about fishing in Gibraltar. Well, check out this post about a 130 kilo Bluefin caught in the Strait of Gibraltar, near to Tangiers. A rare treat:

  17. Sandy

    What gorgeous sharks! Their coloring is just beautiful.

    We’d sometimes catch small black tips in Mobile Bay, but we never kept them. There were a few restaurants in that area that served shark, but most everyone stayed away b/c of the reputation the meat had. I’ve had it once when my uncle ordered a plateful drenched in some type of stewed sauce. Though itt didn’t taste of ammonia, I found it too fibrous and bland for my taste…though you are right about it resembling cod. But I suppose if anyone could make shark tasty, it’d be you. 😉

  18. Lang

    Beautiful looking fish! I’ve always tossed back the dogfish we inadvertently catch (sometimes you see them cruising right along the shoreline during salmon season, gobbling up the salmon guts left by beach anglers) but might reconsider next time, if it’s legal to keep. That dish with tomatoes and paprika looks awesome.

  19. Nate @ House of Annie

    Great post.!

    I’ve eaten shark steaks, grilled like swordfish – good eating. Smoked shark sounds pretty good as well.

  20. BigGirlPhoebz

    This is an awesome post. Those sharks are quite adorable–I’ve never seen such small, thin sharks before.

    Also love the recipe. I’ve made cod a few times dusted in flour and plopped atop a piperade sauce–basically what you’ve done here, but with the addition of red bell peppers.

    Thanks for the great recipe!


  21. Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook « Foodie Friday

    […] him to Jim and Dennis, I called him “the Bear Grylls of the culinary world”.  From fishing for leopard sharks in San Francisco Bay to making venison sausages to sipping cider brewed from manzanita berries he picked himself, he is […]

  22. Conrad

    Do you think shark fishing in the Bay Area will be banned soon due to depletion of shark populations world wide? I have read that the population of all shark species have been decreased by 90% and that between 80 to 90 million sharks are killed each year primarily for shark fin soup.

  23. Gerald Moneypenny

    One way to try to save the sharks is to build a ship that machine filets the shark while at sea. The loins would then be vacuum packed and frozen(we receive sushi-grade tuna loins this way)
    If we could show a profitable way to sell shark to seafood markets maybe we could convert some shark finners.

  24. livermoron

    Fished for sharks in the bay a few times and have caught leopards, dogfish, seven-gills, and threshers. Never had a problem with uric acid. We cut into the flesh just above the tail and this facilitates the expulsion of that acid.
    Shark fishing also results in hooking rays. I’ve caught 60 lbers. Like playing tugowar with Warren Sapp. Tough to butcher too. The ray, not Warren. He’d probably be tough to bucher too come to think of it.

  25. I R Rational meals – Guitarfish Edition | jmw590

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