Off The Hook

Ferrari family finds formula for freshest fish

By Gabrielle Myers
December 2023

My dinner tonight is tender, flakey and buttery black cod, known as sablefish, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, torn basil confetti and crushed cherry tomatoes.

It’s the freshest fish I’ve had in town—and it came from a waterfront stand off South River Road in West Sacramento.
Down South River Road’s bends and twists, across the river from Pocket and just before Vierra Farms, there’s sign for Ferrari Fisheries. The trail leads to a stall with a table and containers.

The sign brings to mind the timeless, muddy Sacramento River floating past. Yet here is some of the area’s freshest ocean fish. The fisherman is Anthony Ferrari. He carries on a family tradition started decades ago by his father.

Ferrari and his wife Terri bring whole black cod, ling cod, rockfish and other delights straight from their boats in Fort Bragg to Sacramento. The direct exchange between Ferrari Fisheries and customers results in the freshest fish around.

Ferrari, known to all as Tony, runs two of the three boats. His father Lou runs the other. The elder Ferrari, 80, has fished since high school, mostly long-line work out of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco before he moved to Fort Bragg.

Tony grew up fishing with his father, appreciating the open sea and adventure. At 13, he began to fish from his own boat, a junkyard wreck rebuilt safe and navigable by Lou.

Tony had another outdoor interest. A left-handed relief pitcher, he worked eight seasons in minor league baseball. Career highlights include a four-game stretch with the Montreal Expos and a season with an Italian team, Grosseto Orioles of Tuscany.

In 2008, Tony came home to learn the fishing business from his father. The two were a successful team.

The Ferraris ran a wholesale business, but during the pandemic, with restaurants shuttered and wholesale prices collapsing, Tony started to think about other ways to sell fish.

He went back to basics, hustling fish from a cooler in the back of his pickup truck. It worked. Tony and Terri established a base of 300 customers, alerting people via text when Tony arrived from Fort Bragg with a new haul.

Today the subscriber list is nearly 4,000. Tony brings black cod, ling cod and rockfish. Sometimes he offers salmon, halibut and swordfish purchased from fellow fishermen around Fort Bragg.

As the subscriber list grew, Tony built out Ferrari Fisheries’ stall with a professional prep table where he can filet the catch. By law, customers must buy only whole fish. But Tony can filet on the spot, no charge.

Tony smokes black cod, my favorite smoked fish. It stands up well to cooking and retains its characteristic flake throughout the smoking process.

On my visit to the River Road stall, Ferrari showed me an old refrigerator he turned into a smoker. Bountiful fillets smoked slowly with apple wood chips.

With Courtland’s apple orchards close by, Ferrari’s apple wood smoke fit perfectly with the view of the winding river.

Hook and long-line fishing practiced by the Ferraris is one of the most sustainable methods. No large nets to indiscriminately capture fish of all varieties. Hook and line fishing produces only the type, quality and size sought.

Ferrari adds another layer of sustainability when he composts and spreads the leftover fish guts and bones around the family yard and garden.

Ferrari’s fish is served at local restaurants, including Hook & Ladder, Localis, Allora and Cacio.

To buy a whole fish, visit the stall at 4520 South River Road, West Sacramento. For information and text alerts visit

Gabrielle Myers can be reached at Her latest book of poetry, “Too Many Seeds,” can be ordered from Follow us on Facebook, X and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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