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How to Smoke Fish


Three Whole Trout

Three Whole Trout

Derrick Riches

Smoking fish can be easy if you follow some basic steps. All you need is a smoker, fuel and some fish. Once you have the basics of smoking fish down you will find that there is so much you can do with a smoked fish from meals to appetizers to dips and spreads. This process is called hot smoking and unlike the cold smoking process this fish is cooked and not preserved. You need eat the fish after cooking or refrigerate or freeze.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 4 to 6 hours

Here's How:

  1. Use only fresh fish or fish that was quickly frozen.
  2. Clean fish, removing the head, tail, fins, etc.. Also remove any bruised or damaged flesh
  3. Wash fish in clean water.
  4. Prepare a salt-water brine of 2 1/2 tablespoons plain salt to 1 cup of water. You need 1 quart of brine for 1 pound of fish.
  5. Place fish in brine for 15 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of the fish.
  6. Prepare smoker. Plan on smoking for 3 hours plus 30 minutes per pound of fish.
  7. Remove fish from brine and rinse with cold water.
  8. Place fish, skin side down on oiled smoker rack.
  9. Keep the temperature low, around 150 to 170 degrees F for the first 2 hours.
  10. Increase heat after the first 2 hours to around 200 to 220 degrees F.
  11. Continue smoking until fish is flaky and cooked through.
  12. Serve immediately or refrigerate. If you don't plan on eating the fish in a couple of days, wrap it tightly and put it in the freezer.


  1. To reduce the fishy smell, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice per cup of brine.
  2. If this is your first try at smoking fish, I recommend not using an expensive fish. Try it out with the couple of cheaper fish until you get the hang of it.

What You Need:

  • Fish
  • A Smoker
  • Fuel for your smoker (see manual
  • Water
  • Salt
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