how to smoke fishLike many skills, smoking fish is easy to learn, though extremely difficult to master.  Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can expand your offerings to include interesting and delicious appetizers, spreads, and dips.  The end result of smoking fish is a smoky, flavorful piece of seafood that is sure to delight your friends, family, and neighbors.

Choosing The Right Fish to Smoke

As a general rule, the heavier and oilier the fish, the better results a first-time smoker will have.  This is due to the fat content of heavier fish more effectively absorbing the smoky flavor.  The higher fat also serves to keep the fish moist.  The best types of fish to use for a new smoker include:

Trout – Bluefish – Marlin – Bonito – Sturgeon – Salmon – Tuna

More flaky or delicate fish, including sea bass, redfish, orange roughy, and others should be saved until you’ve earned a little more experience, as they typically dry out quickly.  You should also avoid more expensive fish until you’ve gotten a little more experience under your belt.

Regardless of the fish that you choose, it’s extremely important that it be fresh or quickly frozen after capture.  To determine the freshness, look at the gills.  If they’re red or pink, it’s a good choice.  Brown or gray gills should be passed over.

Preparing the Fish

Preparing your fish for smoking is relatively easy.  First, you’ll want to thoroughly wash your fish.  You’ll then want to prepare very basic brine.  You can do this by combining 2 ½ tablespoons of sea salt with one cup of water.  You’ll want to have about one quart of brine for each pound of fish that you plan to smoke.  If you don’t like a fishy smell, you can add a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice to your brine.

You’ll next want to place the fish in the brine and allow it to set for 15 minutes for each half-inch of fish.  When the brining is completed, you’ll want to remove the fish, and rinse thoroughly with cold tap water.

Smoking the Fish

After preparation, it’s time to get cooking.  You’ll want to put your fish on an oiled smoker rack, skin facing down.  Your smoker should be kept at a low temperature, approximately 150 degrees for the first two hours.  You’ll then want to increase the heat slightly to 200 degrees.  Cook the fish until it’s cooked all the way through, with a flaky consistency.

Smoked fish should be served immediately for best results.  If you’re not planning on eating the fish right away, you should wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and place it in your freezer.

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.