Hank Shaw has a lifelong love for fish. He gets excited about the catch. “The tug is the drug,” as he says. Every kind of fish has a different “feel” at the other end of the line, and every angler has a way of working the water.
But unlike some anglers, Shaw has taken the time to learn the cultures that surround fish. He explores the unique styles of fishing around the globe, and he learns regional techniques for preparation and cooking.
Shaw refers to fishing as a skill, but he treats it as a craft, and his artistry is as evident in “Hook, Line and Supper,” as it is in his other books and on his website, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. The photographs, paired with Hank’s descriptions, make for a delightful reading experience.
This is not a cookbook. Hank Shaw creates an experience that gives his followers a close-up look at how your fillet reached the plate on your table. Even if you never catch a fish in your life, “Hook, Line and Supper” will help you become a wiser consumer of seafood.
On why Hank does what he does
“The reason why I do what I do is so that more and more people – I used to say Americans, but my audience is now international – take some piece of the wild world and make it their own. It puts skin in the game. Right now, in this global society we’re in, we are as divorced from nature as we have ever been as a species, and that’s bad. We live most of our lives in front of a computer screen, and with the urbanization of the world, you’re starting to get more and more people who not only don’t know where their food comes from, they don’t know the names of any of the plants that live around them. And when you don’t have a name for something, you don’t understand what it is that’s all around you. But if you gather things, if you fish, you care. You have skin in the game, and the skin, so to speak, is what you bring to your table at home."
On his favorite part of fishing
“I kinda do love it all. As soon as we get off this podcast, I’m going to be breaking down some of the fish [I caught] yesterday, and I really enjoy that. It’s kind of like opening up a present, where you’ve got your animal, whether it’s hunting or fishing or whatever, and as you break it into whatever pieces or whatever process you’re going through, what’s going through your mind is all the different ways you might be able to cook it and serve it, like, ‘Oh, this is really special,’ or ‘This one’s especially fatty. I’m going to flash freeze it and eat it raw.’ It goes from the fishing aspect of it to the cooking aspect of it, and it’s that transformation that’s really exciting. There’s just kind of a nice zen part to it.”
On what makes fishing a unique pursuit
“I think the attraction for a non-angler to become an angler is to put yourself in interesting places. It’s a skill. Even rock fishing. It’s not exactly the most challenging form of fishing that you can do, but nor is it as easy as people think it is. And so you need to develop a sense of touch. You need to develop a sense of, kind of an out-of-bodyness that really very few other pursuits require because you can’t see what’s going on where your hook is. It’s all sensory. It’s all touch and intuition.”