As Chef John Cox says in his story in our Winter 2013 issue about cooking whole fish, “Ichthyophobia,” your best bet for obtaining fresh whole fish is to get to know a fisherman.
The next best way is to get it is to get to know a good fish market.
In Santa Cruz, the Fish Lady, H&H Fresh Fish’s new Fish House and Stagnaro Brothers all carry whole fish. The Fish Lady recommends calling ahead to preorder and H&H also needs advance notice if the fish is being purchased for pickup through it’s Community Supported Seafood weekly share program or a farmers’ market.
In Monterey, Carmel and Moss Landing, Sea Harvest provides whole fish if ordered in advance. Monterey Fish Co. carries whole fish that can be purchased on a walk-in basis or pre-ordered.
In San Juan Bautista, Pacific Harvest Seafood offers whole fish.
Local Catch Monterey Bay does not operate a market, but offers a “whole fish” option in its Community Supported Fishery program in both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. If you’re a member, when the species of the week isn’t too large—petrale sole is an example—you’ll receive a whole fish rather than fillets.
Local Catch also allows members to special-order whole large fish, like salmon.