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[whitespace] Ernie Kinzli Don't Spare the Rod: Ernie Kinzli of Ernie's Casting Pond is loading for fish.

Get Fishy

Fresh treats from the sea

By Kelly Luker

EVERY TIME I want to sink my teeth into a nice, juicy steak, the politically correct killjoy that lives in my head always pipes up to ruin my appetite. I'm reminded of how Bossy the Cow consumed acres of grain that could have fed the hungry, and then screamed in pain all the way to my dinner plate. The only thing more nauseating than this mental imagery is beef's alternative, the inedible cardboard known as tofu.

Fortunately, there is another high-protein source that tastes good and is a little easier on the food chain: fish. One would think that living on the edge of one of world's largest bodies of water would entitle us to an abundant supply of fresh, inexpensive seafood, but one would be sadly mistaken. In logic that only makes sense to marketing and delivery people, Santa Cruz has more than its share of crabs from Alaska, lobster from Maine and finny friends from far, far away, frozen and getting furry with age.

But great seafood is here if you know where to look. For the freshest catch of the day, head on down on weekends to Dock T at the Santa Cruz yacht harbor and look for the fishing boat Reliance. Captain Mark Russo sells his fish literally right off the boat.

For weekdays, try the Fish Lady in Soquel. Although some fish is pre-frozen, everything caught that day is clearly listed. Glistening pink salmon, albacore, it's all there. They'll throw in a marinade at no extra charge, but why bother when the fish is fresh?

A tuna fish sandwich usually begins with Star-Kist, but for a change, try mixing the mayo with a can of Dave's garlic albacore. Found at New Leaf grocery and other good grocery stores, Dave's albacore is caught and canned locally, and there's no mistaking the difference in taste.

Then again, perhaps you'd like to feel the wind in your hair and guts in your fingers and go catch your own seafood. Easy enough--just go to Ernie's Casting Pond and get some gear for saltwater fly-fishing. Imagine you're Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, except it's the ocean and white sea bass instead of Montana and trout. One of the great joys of fly-fishing--salt or fresh--is that it promises yet another way to spend gobs of money on a hobby guaranteed to annoy the spouse. Load up the tackle box with lefties, deceivers and clouser minnows (fishing lures to you newbies), grab your Sage rod and hit the cliffs. Bon Appetit!

(When she's not re-watching The Perfect Storm, writer Kelly Luker fishes for compliments.)

'Reliance,' Dock T
Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor

Dave's Albacore Tuna
Various grocery stores, 475.5847

The Fish Lady
2510 Main St., Soquel, 475.6044

Ernie's Casting Pond
4845 Soquel Dr., Soquel, 462.4665

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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