Whenever we have guests come into town to stay for the weekend, we usually have an itinerary planned around the tides, whether it’s agate hunting at Bob Creek during low tide or crabbing in the Alsea Bay at high tide.

But tide tables were not needed at all in this weekend’s adventure. This past weekend, our old next door neighbors, Steve and Angie Kay, and their two adorable children came into town for a visit, and they wanted to take their kids fishing. We knew just the spot — Big Creek Reservoir in Newport.

Big Creek Reservoir and Big Creek Reservoir 2 are heavily stocked with hatchery rainbow trout from late winter well into spring, and they’re the perfect spots to take vacationers and locals of any age because you’re almost always guaranteed to catch a fish, including some fat “trophy” sized rainbow trout. In fact, while we were there this past Saturday morning, we watched a man pull a 16-inch rainbow trout from the reservoir right in front of us.

While we typically fish right off the bank, we have seen some anglers launch small rafts or rowboats into the reservoir, and it looks like a ton of fun, too. No motors are allowed in these waters though to help preserve water quality, so it’s non-motorized rafts or boats only.

So if you’re looking for a great way to impress guests or just a full day of family fun, Big Creek Reservoir is always a great time and almost always guarantees some great eats.

Recipe by, Smoked Meat Sunday — www.smokedmeatsunday.com

Ingredients

Whole salmon or trout fillets

Smoked Trout Brine 

• 1/2 cup kosher salt

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1 tablespoon paprika

Smoked Trout Glaze

• 1/4 cup honey

• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

• 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions

1. Combine the brine ingredients in a food safe container.

2. Place your fish fillets in the container, and then liberally sprinkle the brine over your fish. Every nook and cranny of the fish fillet should be covered with your dry brine. Once the fish is adequately covered, cover the pan with saran wrap and place the whole pan in your refrigerator.

3. Let the fish brine for at least 3 hours, and up to 6 hours. Any longer and it will be too salty.

4. After the trout has been brined, rinse each of the fillets thoroughly, and then pat dry.

5. Place the fish on a grill rack, and then put the rack on the sheet pan you were using before, and back in the fridge with the fish! If you don’t have room in the fridge, you can put the fish in a cool, well-ventilated area. The fish will need to sit out for at least 3 hours. This step produces a tacky film on the surface of the salmon, called the pellicle. The pellicle will help your trout or salmon hold more of that smoke flavor you’re looking for, and it keeps the fish from cooking too quickly.

6. Set your smoker up to cook with indirect heat at around 140 or 150 degrees, and then place your trout or salmon fillets on the grill grates.

7. Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

8. Stir the ingredients until the honey and brown sugar has dissolved, and then set aside.

9. At the end of each hour, brush your fish with the glaze.

10. After 2 hours, increase the temperature in your smoker by 20 degrees. Repeat this process every 2 hours.

11. Smaller trout only take a few hours to smoke, but larger lake trout and salmon can take several hours. Check the temp of your fish with a good meat thermometer after a few hours, and when the fish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees, you can pull the fish from the smoker.

12. When the fish is done smoking you can eat it warm, or let it cool for about 60 minutes before putting it in an airtight container in the fridge.

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