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Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to Land Your Fish

Many people don’t go fishing because they simply don’t think they know how, or would be able to bring the fish into shore once they’ve hooked it.
There are simple techniques and easy ways to hook, play and to land your fish that aren’t at all hard to learn.
The first thing that’s going to happen is that you feel that gentle tug that tells you that you have a fish nibbling at your bait.
You need to set the hook, which means forcing the hook into the fish.
Usually a sharp wrist snap is all that necessary to set the hook, but take a little care when you snap the line.
Netting a fish to land it
Netting a fish to land it
Depending on what you are fishing for, a soft mouth fish such as a crappie or some kinds of trout, will result in simply pulling the hook through and losing you your fish. Next up is going to be the fight..
When any fish feels that hook pulling against it, you will find yourself in a struggle. The fish wants to get free and you want to bring him in.
Each type of fish will fight differently. Carp, or salmon are strong and powerful and will make a long run, while a Steelhead trout will jump and run as well.
Trout will fight quite wildly, and a Pike will come to the boat pretty easily but then fight when he approaches it.
Some sunfish will zig and zag trying to get to cover that might tangle your line.. Play the fish, give him some slack and reel in..
If you’ve caught a fish in a more shallow water, they are going to be bigger fighters, more frantic than one in deep water.
Many times you can simply reel in a smaller fish, while larger fish require a technique called “pumping the rod.”
To do this, retrieve line quickly as you lower the rod until it is horizontal and pointed at the fish. Then stop reeling in line and slowly raise the rod up. When the rod is at about the 11 o’clock position, repeat the process until the fish is near and ready to be landed.
NOTE: Never let the line go slack.
Landing can be done by hand, or with a net. If you are fishing from the shore, one way to do it is called beaching the fish.
This should only be used if you plan to keep and eat the fish because it will harm the coating on its body.
To beach a fish, lead it into increasingly shallower water, gradually sliding the fish on its side onto dry land.
To net a fish, have the fish under control. Lead the fish to the net. Place the net in the water and lead the fish into the net head first. Then if the fish should try to escape, it will swim into the net. Once the fish is completely in the net, raise the net by the handle.
To handle a fish that has some very sharp teeth, such as Pike or Walleye, hold it around its body.

Surviving a Bear Encounter

(based on an article by CBC News Canada, 2005)

One of the first things we all need to know and remember about bears is that they are wild, they are unpredictable and that there is no absolutely certain way of surviving an attack by a bear, whether that attack is from a black bear or a grizzly, so the best bet is to prevent one.
When you are walking in areas that you can’t see more than ten or fifteen feet ahead of you talk during the walk.. If you’re in a party talk among yourselves more loudly than normal.
Some people wear bear bells so that the noise precedes them. However you accomplish it, make sure that anything ahead of you knows that you’re coming through.
Surviving a Bear Encounter
Surviving a Bear Encounter
If you see a bear and its at a distance, and you believe you can get away without the bears noticing you, do that, Quickly and Quietly back away. Shouting at a bear that doesn’t know you’re there is aggression and may provoke the attack you are trying to prevent.
Alert the bear to the fact that you are there, and do what you can to prove you’re human. Most bears have encountered us, know what we are and look like. Speak to the bear, wave your arms around slowly and back away.
If you’re within 50 feet of the bear when you encounter it, forget about identifying yourself as a human being. It knows. Just back away slowly and don’t provoke the animal.
If a bear begins to approach you or charge you, stand your ground. Bears often will bluff a charge, stopping abruptly or veering off.
CBC says “If the bear is going to attack you, the best protection is a gun. If the threat is real, it’s best to shoot to kill. Don’t go for the head, go for the heart. If the bear is broadside, aim for the shoulder. If the bear’s coming straight at you with its head low to the ground, aim for the back of the neck between the shoulders. Keep firing until the bear’s dead because a wounded bear is very dangerous.
If you don’t have a gun, there are two things to do, depending on the bear.
If it’s a grizzly, play dead.
Recommended positions for playing dead:
* Lie on your side, curled into a ball, legs drawn tightly to your chest, hands clasped behind your neck.
* Lie flat on the ground, face down, hands clasped behind your neck.
* Remain in these positions even if the bear drags you.
Do not play dead if it’s a black bear, or a grizzly that regards you as prey. It that case, the best thing to do is fight back.
Recommended ways to fight back with a black bear or a grizzly that regards you as prey:
* Act aggressively.
* Defend yourself with whatever is available whether that’s a baseball bat, rake, tent pole, axe, anything.
* Try to appear dominant.
* Shout, jump up and down, wave your arms, hold up your jacket or backpack to make yourself look bigger.”
Using these methods are your best bet for surviving a violent encounter with a bear.
The best bet however is still to take precautions to prevent the encounter to begin with.
Wear the bear bells, attached to your boots.
Talk loudly when you can’t see any real distance ahead of you.
Carry bear spray.
Know that bears standing on their hind legs swinging their heads from side to side are trying to pick up scents to decide who and what you are. Bears do not charge on their hind legs.
A hunting bear shows no fear and does not bother with displays. It approaches its prey at a fast walk, or follows or circles the prey.

Making a Temporary Ice Fishing Hut

Wintertime fishing or spear fishing is an interesting and fun hobby with just a couple drawbacks to make it less fun.
Aside from the cold, the means to see clearly what you are trying to spear or catch below you is one huge pain in the neck, because the sun’s glare prevents you from seeing anything really well in the wintertime.
An ice fishing, or spear fishing hut can help with this drawback immensely, because when its well made, its nearly all the way dark inside, which makes the water nearly glow beneath you, helping you to see far better whats below you that you are trying to catch or spear.
Bring along four square posts about 8 feet long, and cross bar posts, as well as a few planks and a screwdriver and screws to your site.
Decide where you want to make your ice-fishing hole and lay down the planks which you can mark with the hole placement for cutting later.
Arrange the posts to make a frame. Use a drill and screws to assemble the posts. Haul the frame out on the ice.
Place the frame over the plank floor. Cut a hole in the ice and the plank floor. The hole should be in the forward part of the ice-fishing house to leave room for you to sit down and store an ice-fishing stove.
Cover the frame using thick blankets or dark colored tarps or canvas. If the hut is going to sit there for the better part of the winter time, use four pieces of plywood to make your walls and secure them with screws, as well as another for your roofing.
Note the snow packed beneath the house to preclude the light from entering the hut
Note the snow packed beneath the house to preclude the light from entering the hut
Pack snow around the ice-fishing house so that no light comes in under it. If snow is covering the ice outside, sweep it away. The natural light outside is going to illuminate the water below you so that you can see the hole and the water, due to the darkness of the ice house.
* Use caution while working on the ice. Be absolutely certain that the ice is thick enough to support an ice-fishing house and to support you. Driving on the ice is not a good idea unless you are familiar with the thickness well ahead of time.

Why Go Fishing?

So you watched every  fishing show on television and you figured. Oh I can do that. Hm. Wonder if I’d like it. It looks unexciting.
Every day more and more people begin new hobbies, imagining that there isn’t much more to it than what they see on the television shows.
Two men, or women, in a boat, drop in the lure and instantly the fish jumps onto the line and magically appears in the boat.
Bass fishing is everywhere, with every lake, river and pond thats accessible by boat is a mecca for a bass fisherman and you’d like to join them. For good reason. Nothing but nothing is more exciting than pulling in a huge bass or a trophy trout.
Bass fishing today is considered to be the top sport in freshwater, and the fishing industry as a whole, is about seventy percent geared toward bass fishing.
Bass fishing when it yields this kind of fish is definitely exciting
Bass fishing when it yields this kind of fish is definitely exciting
So whats so great about  fishing?
Well the television shows aside, it is in fact the one sport in the world where someone who takes the time to learn some small things, and practices them can compete equally with anyone else, regardless of sex, age, weight or size.
Bass fishing doesn’t require extra athletic ability, you don’t require vast amounts of additional working out, or the perfect body or youth.
Fishing is quite a different sport in that you can compete equally with those who have our level of experience regardless of your level of fitness or athletic abilities.
Learning the “how-to’s of fishing isn’t all that difficult, and nearly any internet site, particularly those such as “In Fisherman” or Fishing with Bill Dance” will be able to give you tips and tricks to help you grow as an angler.
OF course the more you head out on the water, the more you practice what you’re leaning, the better fisherman yuou will become, and Bass fishing has that in common with the other sports. Practice is going to make you better at what you’re doing.
One thing I love about fishing is that it tends to bond families if everyone takes part.
Husbands and wives and kids can all do this on an even footing, little sister might just catch something bigger than Dad did, and thats a positive thing at times.
Spending time together, being on equal footing for that particular period of time has some very positive benefits to the family and nearly every family I’ve seen begin fishing together, assumes they will hate it, and ends up wondering why they didn’t do it a long time ago.
Even the most finicky female teenager is excited when hauling in a huge bass and posing in front of the camera with her catch.
Frankly, more often than not, women tend to make better fishermen than the guys do, and this is by and large because they tend to be more patient and don’t overwork their bait.
Want to get closer to your wife and kids? Spend some quality time with them, teach them a love of the outdoors?
Take them fishing and you’re going to find out, exactly what it has to offer.

Fishing in Clear Water

Fishing in Clear Water 
Fishing in clear water is a spooky proposition to most fishermen, particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience with doing that.
I tend to enjoy it actually because it presents a bit more of a challenge.
When facing water that is very clear, look around to see what kind of cover there is available to you, and try to fish those areas. Grass cover will make a lot of hiding places for the fish, and offer them some feeling of protection, but needs a bit of extra effort so far as lures, but there are several that will work well for you.
Choose a lure that will cover the water both quickly and efficiently. You’ll find this will be most effective for you in clearer water.
When you choose the lure use the layout of the grass and let the lake be your guide in selecting one.
The three general lures that are going to be your best bet in a situation such as this where the water is more clear and things are more easily seen will be the spinnerbait, buzzbait and rattle trap.
When you are fishing clear water, the main thing you are really shooting for is to make sure that you use a smaller bait, something that will be less visible, particularly in clear water with a higher light, such as on a sunny day.
The small size is not as gaudy looking, or as easily seen as some of the larger baits, and will appear to the fish to be more realistic and therefore will be hit on far more rapidly than some of the larger cousins.
Another key ingredient is speed. Fish your lure rather quickly so that the fish in clear water, where the ability to see is enhanced, don’t get a really good look at what they are hitting on, but rather are guided by reflex to hit on the target, not by viewing it as a food source, but simply a sparkle in the water that could be food.
Every one of these lures will catch you some fish in a clear water area, but your best bet is going to be the grassy parts, and if there are none, choose a marina, a dock or something else man made such as a boat launch or what have you as these are going to attract the fish as well.
Bottom line. a little cover is better than none, fish lures and run them through quickly to enhance your fishing catch in a clear water area.

Choosing a Fly Rod

Choosing a Fly Rod 
When you finally decide that fly fishing is something you’d like to take a shot at, you will of course need a bit of gear to go with that decision.
The many fly rods out there make it nearly impossible for a newbie to the art to select one, without a little advance study .
There are three real variables to take into account when you decide to get a fly rod.
Learning to fly fish isn't difficult and is a fun and interesting sport
Learning to fly fish isn't difficult and is a fun and interesting sport
Those considerations should be the weight, the action and the length of the rod.
The weight is a standard system that the industry uses to number the rods.
They don’t use grams, but rather a number system that ranges in number from 1 to 14.
Deciding what weight of rod to get is fairly easy once you know what kind of fish you’re interested in catching with that rod.
the weights from 1 to 3 are used for smaller fish, such as small trout, perch, panfish, bluegill and etc.
weight four is for panfish and medium sized trout
weight 5 and 6 are more for medium trout, small bass and things
weights 7 and 8 will do larger trout, steelhead and the like.
weights 9 through 14 are more for larger salmon, and saltwater type fish
Scientific Anglers 6-Weight Freshwater Concept Outfit
Scientific Anglers 6-Weight Freshwater Concept Outfit
Common sense generalities tell you that the lower weights are for smaller fish, while the higher weights are for higher weighted fish.
for most of the beginning fly fishermen, a 3 to 5 weight rod is going to be all you need, and will still be used once you get to the point where you are catching bigger fish, for things such as a great brook trout stream.
Likewise, a medium action rod will be the best choice for those who are beginning in fly fishing, since its going to be used mostly for the type of fish that you’re going to be catching.. Small to medium trout and panfish.
For the most part you will by and large be doing freshwater and lake fishing, and most of what your’e going to catch will be small or medium fish, particularly while learning the ins and outs of fly fishing.
A great beginnnig rod for the new fly fisherman.. Or woman.. is going to be about an 8 foot, 4 or 5 weight and a medium action rod, which will help you to catch fish, while getting the hang of the new techniques.

Cleaning Fish for Eating

Cleaning Fish for Eating 
Fish that you plan to keep and eat later, need to be kept fresh to prevent the meat from making you ill.
To assure that it is fresh, keep it alive until it is cleaned, which prevents any danger of spoilage.
Place your fish into a live well, or on a stringer in the water, or failing that, in a cooler filled with stream water.
Cleaning a fish
Cleaning the Fish
Cleaning the Fish
Cleaning your catch tends to be a little messy, but isn’t at all difficult.
Place the knife tip into the fish’s vent and move the blade up along the belly, cutting to the head. Keep the knife placement shallow so you don’t puncture the entrails.
Spread open the body and remove the intestines, and scrape the backbone.
Cut the head off, and rinse the fish in some clean water.
Once you have it cleaned, it needs to be put on ice or in a cooler.
Don’t store your fish in ice water, but permit the water to drain from the cooler as it melts.
Scailing the Fish
Scailing the Fish
While some fish don’t have scales many more do and they need to be removed from the fishes skin. Lay the fish on a flat surface, holding it by the head with one hand.
Lay your knife rather sideways against the fish and rake it from the tail toward the head.
Make sure that you scale both sides of the fish.
Bluegill and crappie are usually scaled first, then cleaned and most of the time cooked while they are whole.
Remove the bones of course before you eat the fish.
Skinning the Fish
Skinning the Fish
Removing the skin improves the taste of a lot of fish. It also removes a layer of fat just under the skin. Catfish are usually skinned because their skin is so tough and is not at all palatable.
To skin a catfish or bullhead, hold its head firmly on a flat surface with a clamp.
I like to snip off a catfish’s spines before skinning them because they can give a nasty spike to a hand.
Cut through the skin that is behind the head, and pull down with pliers.
Filleting the Fish
Filleting the Fish
means getting the meat of the fish without the bones. Larger fish like bass, pike, salmon, and walleye, are very often filleted. A filleted fish has its skin and all of its bones removed before cooking. Scaling isn’t necessary. Fillet knives have a long, thin, blade that’s very sharp and made specifically for this purpose.
For Filleting Fish
Lay the fish on its side on a flat surface.
Cut the fish behind its gills and pectoral fin down to, but not through, the backbone. Without removing the knife, turn the blade and cut through the ribs toward the tail. Use the fish’s backbone to guide you. Turn the fish over and repeat the steps.

Catch and Release Fishing

Catch and Release Fishing
Catch and release was first started in the 1960′s as a way to conserve fish when the fisherman had no plans to use it for food.
It caught on slowly but today is used widely in sports fishing.
To be able to release your fish, it must be as unstressed a possible.
Handle it as little as possible, and avoid holding it with dry hands at all so that the protective slime coat is not removed from the fish.
If you don’t have a fish with very sharp teeth, you will be able to grasp the lower lip between your thumb and pointer finger and hold the fish vertically. Make sure that you support a larger fish under its belly.
Hold the fish with sharper teeth around the back of their heads, holding the gills closed.
A salmon being released after the catch
A salmon being released after the catch
Try not to keep a fish out of the water any longer than you can hold your breath, and don’t tear out the hook but rather, gently slide it out.
If the fish hook is deeply embedded, cut the line and release your fish. Contrary to what you’ve heard, the hook will rust and dissolve, or will in fact come out itself without doing any harm to the fish, but ripping it out, will in fact many times kill the fish.
If you are finding that the lures or bait that you’re using is being swallowed or that deep hooking is taking place very often, cut your hooks so that they no longer have barbs, or buy barbless hooks.
Removing these is a lot easier and much healthier for the fish.
If a fish that you want to release becomes unconscious, attempt to revive it by moving it back and forth in the water so that water will flow through the fishes gills.
When it begins to mo

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fishing Knots

Join two lines of different thicknesses.
Albright Knot - This knot is used to join two lines of different thicknesses. It is used to attach a heavier 'leader' (rather than a double) to a lighter main line.
It requires careful forming of the loops.
Blood BightCreate drop loops in light line traces.
Blood Bight Knot - This knot is used to create drop loops in light line traces. Its advantages are that the dropper tends to stand out from the main line and its reputed 95% retained breaking strain. 
BloodJoin two similar thicknesses of line.
Blood Knot - This is a high strength knot to join two similar thicknesses of line. It's main advantage is it's low profile enabling it to run smoothly through rod line guides. 
Butterfly DropperSuitable for lines over 15 kilo.
Butterfly Dropper - Quick and easy to tie. Creates a loop that will stand away from main line. Is most suitable for lines over 15 kilo. Can slip if not tightened properly. 
CentauriAttach hooks through the eye to the line.
Centauri Knot - This knot is principally used to attach hooks through the eye to the line. Works well on a wide range of line strengths and claims to retain 96% of breaking strain. 
Clinch Knot
Clinch Knot - Pass the line through the eye of the hook, or swivel. Double back. make five turns around the line. Pass the end of the line through the first loop, above the eye, and then through the large loop. Draw the knot into shape. Slide the coils down tight against the eye. 
Clinched Half BloodAttaching swivels, lures or hooks to the main line.
Clinched Half Blood - This is a high strength multi purpose knot. Its main use is attaching swivels, lures or hooks to the main line.
Formation should be assisted by pulling down to the base.
Dropper Loop
Creates a stand out loop for attaching a hook to a trace.
Dropper Loop - Creates a stand out loop for attaching a hook to a trace. Handy in that it can be tied anywhere along the line. 
Drop Loop
Form a loop for attaching sinkers to the main line.
Drop Loop - This is a high strength loop for the main line. It's main use is to form a loop for attaching sinkers to the main line.
As with all knots remember to lubricate the line before pulling tight
Flemish EyeAttach hooks to multi strand wire.
Flemish Eye - Is the best method to attach hooks to multi strand wire. Its looseness acts like a spring and takes the pressure off the crimped sleeve. 
GrinnerAttaching swivels, lures, and hooks to the main line.
Grinner Knot - This is a multi purpose knot that is more securely clinched than its relative blood knot. Its use is attaching swivels, lures, and hooks to the main line.
Assist its formation by pulling down to the base.
Half BloodAttach swivels, hooks and lures to the main line.
Half Blood Knot - This is a high strength multi purpose knot. It's main use is to attach swivels, hooks and lures to the main line.
Assist the formation by pulling down on the roll towards the base.
Hangman Knot
Hangman Knot - Pass a 15cm loop of line through the eye. Bring the end back on itself, passing it under the doubled part. Make five loops over the doubled part. The formed knot is worked into shape. The knot is sent down the line, against the eye of the hook or swivel. 
Hook SnellAttaching line to a hook with an up or down turned eye.
Hook Snell - Quick and simple method of attaching line to a hook with an up or down turned eye. Can only be used with a free length of line as both ends must pass through the eye. 
Hook SnoodAttach trace line to a hook.
Hook Snood - This is a high strength knot to attach trace line to a hook. Its main advantage is the hook will lie along the direction of the line.
Note that the length of the trace will be the length of the loop.
Jansik Special
Jansik Special - Put 15cm of line through the eye of the hook. Bring it around in a circle and put the end through again. Making a second circle, pass then end through a third time. Holding the three circles of line against each other, wrap the end three times around the circles. Either hold the hook steady with pliers, or make it fast to boat's rigging or safety lines. Holding strain on the hook, pull on both ends of the line to tighten. 
LonglinersAttaching a hook line to a continuous heavy main line.
Longliners Knot - For attaching a hook line to a continuous heavy main line. Will not slip up or down the line. 
PalomarAn all purpose hook to line knot.
Palomar Knot - An all purpose hook to line knot. Very quick to tie and reasonably strong. 
Perfect Loop
Connecting lures or fly to heavy leader, trace or shock tippet.
Perfect loop - One of the better loop knots and can be used on lighter lines although best suited to the heavier. It will not kill the action of the lure or fly.
Function: Connecting lures or fly to heavy leader, trace or shock tippet.
Strength: Retains 70+ strength
Scaffold Knot
Scaffold Knot - Pass a 15cm loop of line through the eye. Lock the upper part between thumb and forefinger, making a loop. Make two more loops over the double part, holding them too, between thumb and forefinger. Pass the end through the two loops just made, plus the first loop made in step2. The formed knot can now be drawn into shape, and worked down against the eye of the hook or swivel 
Snelling A Hook
Snelling A Hook - Pass the end of the line, trace or tippet through the eye twice, leaving a loop hanging below the hook. Hold both lines along the shank of the hook. Use the loop to wind tight coils around the shank and both lines, from the eye upwards. Use from 5 to 10 turns. Use the fingers to hold these tight coils in place. Pull the line (extending from the eye) until the whole loop has passed under these tight coils. With coils drawn up, use pliers to pull up the end of the line 
Spider HitchA relatively easy method to create a double.
Spider Hitch - A relatively easy method to create a double. May require some practice to feed the loops progressively off the thumb when forming. Reputed to retain 80% strength. 
Surgeon's Knot
Surgeon's Knot - Lay the two lines against each other, overlapping about 22.5 cm. Working the two lines as one, tie an Overhand Knot. It will be necessary to pull one line (say the leader) completely through this loop. Pull the leader through this loop again. Pass the other end through the loop. The formed knot can now be worked into shape. 
Swivel DoubleAttaches a swivel to a double with the double remaining intact.
Swivel to Double - Attaches a swivel to a double with the double remaining intact. 
ThumbAttaching hooks and rings to heavy line.
Thumb Knot - A knot useful for attaching hooks and rings to heavy line. May require some practice to sequentially ease the loops off your thumb. 
TurleTie a hook to a light leader.
Turle Knot - A snare knot that is used to tie a hook to a light leader. 
Uni KnotConnecting hooks, swivels, rings and lures.
Uni Knot - This versatile knot can be used can be used for connecting hooks, swivels, rings and lures. Its main advantage is that it retains virtually 90% breaking strain. Easy to tie even in the dark after practice. 
Wind On Wire LeaderLong plastic coated wire traces
Wind on Wire Leader - A fairly simple join which enables reasonably long plastic coated wire traces to be wound up through the rod guides. Can be used for casting lures. 


Smoking Fish

Smoking Fish

Smoking salmon or steelhead can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. By using high quality fish, however, you can produce a very high quality smoked fish product using even the most basic recipe and ingredients. Don't be fooled into thinking the dark fish you just caught on the river is "good enough for the smoker", either, as the quality of the product at the end of the process will be exactly what you put into it.  Below is a simple recipe that I use to smoke all my fish.

Preparing the Fish
After filleting the fish, in this case it's a steelhead, decide whether you want to leave the fish in whole fillets for a presentation, or single serving size pieces. More often than not I chunk my fillets into a size appropriate to serve several people, so we can pull it out of the freezer as we need it. The pin bones can easily be removed from the fillet with a set of pliers.

There are literally hundreds of different recipes for smoking fish, most of which turn out a great tasting piece of fish in the end. This is a very simple recipe that I picked up from local chef, Nicole Meinzer, that produces a great tasting product.

-1 Cup Brown Sugar (dark brown sugar works great, too!)
-1 Cup Coarse Kosher Salt (Pickling Salt also works)
-1 Cup White Sugar
-3 Quarts of Water

Combine the above ingredients in a plastic container or non-metallic mixing bowl. To make the ingredients dissolve more readily I use hot tap water and then allow the mixture to cool in the fridge before adding the fish to it. Also, be sure the salt you use for the brine is non-iodized, as iodized salt produces a metallic taste in the fish after it's done smoking.
Both Pickling and Kosher salt are highly refined, making them dissolve quickly and absorb more readily into the fish.
Depending upon your taste you can also add garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon pepper, cracked black pepper, Worstershire Sauce, and just about anything else you can imagine to this recipe. Personally, I prefer to sprinkle some cracked black pepper on my fish prior to placing it in the smoker.

Place the fish in the brine meat-side down and leave it in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. Aside from the brine, the next step in this process is probably the most important in assuring your fish turns out excellent.

After removing the fish from the brine place it either on the smoker racks or on cookie racks and allow it to air dry for roughly two hours. During this time a glaze, also known as a pellicle, will form on the surface of the fish, trapping the brine and fish oils within the meat. A fan can be used to speed up this process, but I typically just let the fish air-dry in the kitchen at room temperature for around two hours or when a tacky glaze is found on the surface of the flesh.

The Smoker
There are several commercially produced smokers on the market that work great for smoking fish. You'll find smokers that use propane as a heat source and others that use an electric element to burn the chips and heat the unit. Personally, I prefer an electric burner because it creates a constant, uniform amount of heat each and every time I use it.
For safety reasons, you should always plan on placing the smoker a safe distance from anything combustible and don't plan on smoking fish on your wooden deck. A very good friend learned this lesson the hard way by burning his beach house to the foundation. A neighborhood dog couldn't resist the smell of smoked fish and tipped over the smoker while he was away running errands.

Alder, apple, cherry, and hickory chips are all sold commercially by companies like Brinkman and Little Chief, or if you're like me, you can make your own wood chips. I simply cut a 2 to 3 inch diameter branch from an alder or apple tree and using a cordless skill saw I slice thin discs off the end of the branch. I have several of these branches in the wood pile that I am constantly cutting pieces off of for the smoker. Once the branches dry out, however, you'll want to soak your discs in water for several hours before adding them to the smoker.
Placement of the smoker is also a consideration, as strong winds and cold temperatures can lower the temperature within the unit.  If outside temperatures become too cold I'll opt to wait until things warm up to smoke my fish.  

Smoking the Fish
Coat the smoking racks with a non-stick like Pam to keep the fillets from adhering to the grill and place the fish on the racks. After placing the fish in the smoker I like to leave the lid of the smoker, in this case a Brinkman, slightly ajar to keep the temperature down in the smoker. I typically do this for the first 1 to 2 hours of the smoking process to "cold smoke" the fish, giving as much smokey flavor as possible.
Once you drop the lid on the smoker the heat should be somewhere between 145 and 150 degrees, which is enough to kill bacteria and dry the fish out. Another way of completing the drying process is to "cold smoke" the fish in the smoker and then finish it off in the oven at 150 to 200 degrees. That's all a matter of preference, however, and I prefer to finish the whole process in the smoker.

Check the smoker roughly every 30 minutes and if smoke isn't emanating from the unit add more chips. You'll usually have to do this several times throughout the process. How long you leave the fish in the smoker is dependent upon your taste, but when smoking silver salmon or steelhead in the Brinkman a total smoking time of about 3 hours is all that's usually necessary. Thicker king salmon fillets will take longer to fully smoke, of course.

Packaging the Smoked Fish
If you want to store the smoked fish in the freezer for an extended period of time using a Food Saver vacuum packer, or similar vacuum sealing type unit, is highly recommended. After the fish is sealed be sure to write the date and what type of fish it is on the outside of the plastic. Once you've mastered this process, however, you'll find that the fish rarely even makes it to the freezer!

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