The Progression that Led Me to Smoking After the Opening Day of Trout

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

Now, some folks may not get this reference, but in 1994 country artist Joe Diffie released a song titled, “Third Rock from the Sun,” where the refrain lyrics began “Cause and effect, chain of events, all of the chaos makes perfect sense.” (For those readers who did, the catchy tune probably came to mind.) Every once in a while, I’ll think of that refrain whenever I start out doing one thing, and that leads to another, and then another, and before I know it, I’m doing something I hadn’t even considered when I first started out. That’s kind of how I ended up smoking trout this past Sunday. Please allow me to explain the entire scenario to you. My parents live out in the Lehigh Valley in Eastern PA. It’s a 5+ hour drive to go visit them. I hadn’t been out to visit Mom and Dad since just before Christmas and with my Mom’s birthday falling on the first weekend in April, I determined in early March that a four day visit from Fri., Apr. 5 through Mon., Apr. 8 would fit my schedule. As March churned by, I got to thinking I hadn’t used my electric smoker yet in 2019 and then realized I’d never smoked a meal for my parents. I decided I would take my smoker and everything necessary to prepare smoked BBQ ribs for a gathering of family and friends to celebrate my Mom’s birthday at their place. The six whole racks of smoked St. Louis style ribs (almost 21 lbs.!) turned out great and everyone enjoyed them with some leftovers. Besides smoking meat, one of my other culinary skills is making homemade ice cream and I timed it so 4-quarts of vanilla ice cream came out of the electric ice cream maker to accompany Mom’s birthday cake after the meal. It was great getting together with family and friends over good food, and that got me thinking about using my smoker even more in 2019. As I loaded the smoker and its accessories into my truck for the trip home, the thought crossed my mind, why don’t I try smoking the trout I catch on opening day? I’d successfully smoked salmon in the past, so after I got home and finished the chore of cleaning my smoker, I made a quick online search for smoked trout. I came across a good recipe I really liked on the website, called “Perfect Smoked Trout Recipe”. When I headed out this past Sat., Apr. 13, for the opening day of trout season, I wasn’t just fishing. I was a man on a mission seeking to acquire the critical ingredients for my next culinary creation. Saturday morning found me on a small Lawrence County waterway where they stock trout, but quite a ways from where the stocking truck deposits their finned cargo. During my time on the water, I only saw four other fishermen, so my plan to avoid the crowds worked. I was blessed to have more wildlife than human encounters as a I had four wood ducks attempt to land in the pool I was fishing, an angry great blue heron squawking at me since I was apparently in his spot, and a beautiful, inquisitive mink darting along the far bank only 10-yards away, peeking out from amongst the roots and debris as we watched each other for several minutes. Following my own advice I shared last week, I caught two trout from under downed trees and a third from behind a large rock in mid-stream. (Unfortunately, I lost a fourth trout that was barely hooked.) My rainbow trout went 12-inches, 14-inches, and 15-inches. They immediately went in the cooler and after I got them home, I removed the heads, tails, entrails, and fins. I carefully cut them in half longitudinally with one half having the ribs and spine and the other half only ribs. They went into the recipe’s brine solution overnight in the refrigerator and then went into the smoker for 3-hours at 225 degrees with apple wood chips and a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water in the water pan. I removed the skin and bones when the trout came out of the smoker, and unequivocally, the smoked trout was one the best things I have ever made or eaten. Smoking trout was the end result of a long chain of events, but definitely something I’ll repeat in the future. You may want to consider trying it too! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019

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