Wednesday, January 24 , 2018, 4:10 am | Fair 42º


Captain’s Log: The Case for Wild Fish Dinners — or Lunch or Breakfast

Flat taste of farmed salmon misses the boat

Hank Goebel, a Gold Coast local, caught a wild salmon, assuring himself of a fresh fish dinner. Click to view larger
Hank Goebel, a Gold Coast local, caught a wild salmon, assuring himself of a fresh fish dinner. (Photo via Capt. David Bacon)

That farmed salmon looked so good in the neat package at the store. Sure, I read the words about coloring added (to make it look like wild salmon meat). I knew it was farm raised and that it didn’t lead the natural life and fight for its place in the food chain and for its survival on a daily basis.

I knew that without a life in the wild and natural feed it couldn’t have that fabulous flavor of wild salmon. But it looked so good, I didn’t see wild salmon in the store, and I was very much in the mood for salmon. It wasn’t salmon season here, so I couldn’t go catch a wild salmon.

So I bought the package.

Once at home, I put some butter in a pan, heated it up, added the salmon fillets and sprinkled some lemon pepper on top. I like the flavor of fish so much that I typically use simple recipes. I don’t like to marinate good fish because then I taste the marinade more than the fish.

Just a few minutes on each side was all it needed to be cooked perfectly. I had warmed up a plate and it took me no time to dish it up and find me a place to sit. I forked up a bite and put it in my mouth.

After swallowing I said out loud to myself, “I should have used marinade — lots and lots of marinade.”

Okay, I admit I am totally spoiled rotten about fish. As a fishing captain, I feel that if a fish wasn’t swimming wild just a few hours ago, I probably don’t want to eat it.

The taste difference between a fresh-caught fish — as in when you go out and catch it, then take it home and eat it right away — and a piece of store-bought fish, which has been dead the better part of a week, is truly amazing.

A farm-raised fish that was fed pellets and all of the chemicals allowed by liberal laws cannot even begin to compare in taste with a fresh-caught wild fish.

We have a robust commercial fishery here on the Gold Coast and it is relatively easy to find fresh seafood. The fisherman’s market on Saturday mornings at Santa Barbara Harbor is a shopping trip I highly recommend.

The only thing that can compete is going fishing yourself and eating your catch for dinner that same evening. No marinade needed for that fish!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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