Fishin’ far from home
Meet Jefferey Genovese, probably Nevada County’s only commercial fisherman.
Early Friday morning, Genovese left his Cascade Shores home and drove 163 miles to Bodega Bay, where he docks his 36-foot commercial salmon troller, the “Josephine D.,” built in 1941 with planks of sturdy Port Orford cedar.
Jefferey and his father, Joe Genovese, who’s “still a pretty tough guy for 72,” sailed eight miles offshore.
Using 35-foot-long trolling poles, father and son put 36 lures and baited hooks into the water and caught 200 pounds of chinook salmon between Saturday and Monday.
On Tuesday, Jefferey Genovese and his wife, Nya, sold fish wholesale to Nevada City restaurants and stores and sold the remainder retail at the Nevada County Certified Organic Growers’ Market.
The marketing pitch? That the fresh-caught wild salmon are better-tasting and better for you than “farmed” salmon raised in pens in places such as Chile.
Farmed salmon are fed pellets laden with antibiotics, “swim in their own fecal matter,” and are low in Omega 3 fatty acids, the “good fat,” according to brochures Genovese handed out Tuesday at the farmers’ market.
In contrast, wild salmon feed on anchovies, squid and sardines in the “vast oxygenated ocean,” which makes them “low in saturated fat” and high in Omega 3s.
Butch Minor paid $6.85 a pound for Genovese’s salmon steaks at the growers’ market.
“The price is good,” the Nevada City man said. “This is the best fresh salmon we’ve ever had, and that’s the truth. It’s more tender and (has) more flavor.”
Genovese nods in agreement. He calls wild salmon “the most awesome fish on Earth. The Indians called them ‘sacred,’ and I think they are, too.”
But how does a commercial fisherman wind up 163 miles from the ocean?
The Genoveses lived in Santa Cruz until about four years ago. Then Jefferey decided to spend four months each summer in southeast Alaska to raise enough money to start his business here.
Jefferey’s parents live in Alta Sierra, and “we came here to visit my family right before I went to Alaska to work in the commercial fishing,” said Genovese. “When I was in southeast Alaska working, (Nya) was falling in love with … Nevada City.”
“Bottom line is, she fell in love with it, so we stayed,” he said.
Although the couple settled here, Genovese couldn’t kick the fishing habit he started in 1978, learning from “old Italian” fishermen to fish for pompano with nets in Monterey Bay. Genovese would fish all night for pompano then sell the catch in the morning at the fresh-fish market in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
“Basically, this is giving me a chance to get back to my roots,” Genovese said. “I’m here to stay. Someday, I’d like to be called ‘Genovese’s Inland Seafood.'”
Nya Genovese understands her husband’s love of fishing. “I gotta let him do what he loves to do if I’m going to keep him.”
Salmon season starts in May and ends in September. In the winter, Genovese plans to fish for Dungeness crab, black cod and halibut he’ll sell here.
The Genoveses also wholesale their fish to these Nevada City businesses and restaurants: EarthSong Market, PJ’s Meats, Cirino’s, Country Rose, Citronee, New Moon Cafe and Kirby’s Creekside.
The Nevada County Certified Organic Growers’ Market is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday in the parking lot of Premier Plumbing and Irrigation Supply on Nevada City Highway.
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