I have been following Kirk Lombard's blog, The Monkeyface News, for years now. His delightful writing style is a poetic blend of personal experience, history, humor and even a haiku once in a while. As a forager, freediver and angler along the California coast for more than 30 years, Lombard's words always seem to resonate with me. This is why I was so delighted to find out that he had gone beyond his exceptional blog and published what I can honestly call the best book on California near-shore marine food procurement on the market. The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast is a must-read.
Lombard begins his 260-page book with a call to all of us who brave the chill of our North Coast waters to bring marine foods to the table. He explains that, as harvesters of the marine environments, we must go beyond gathering and be active stewards of their resources. It's up to us to be sure our coveted spots are harvested sustainably so that we may pass this tradition on down the generations. Lombard's words on this theme in the first pages echo those at many a driftwood campfire. Responsible harvests are the name of the game.
Beyond the necessity of a moral and sustainable approach to harvesting food from the sea, this book is bursting with unique knowledge. Lombard includes everything from what bait to use for specific species of fish to tackle setups, seasonal abundance and how to prepare fish once they are caught. But as a "sea forager," Lombard has also assembled pages of details on shellfish harvesting and dozens of seafood recipes ranging from smoked herring to coconut salmon soup and steamed rockfish. Lombard's witty asides, personal anecdotes, humor and prose, interspersed with incredible illustrations by Leighton Kelly, makes this book a real page turner.
The author's entertaining writing is second only to his immense knowledge for near-shore fisheries. This book is an absolute must-have for any serious shore angler, mussel harvester or clam digger. You name the species and chances are Lombard has at least a few pages dedicated to it. In fact, there are many species and fisheries in this book you may never have heard of or thought to pursue. This was certainly the case for me and I have been fishing and foraging since I was 2 years old. If you are looking for a fun and informative read or a gift for an aspiring angler or seasoned salty dog, this is the one.