g. loomis, powerpro, shimano fishing

Recipe- Fishwire.net- Easy Smoked Salmon

Tillamook Bay Salmon Fishing photo with Lance Fisher

A client caught Trask River Salmon. The Trask is one of five rivers that empties into Tillamook Bay.


I have to admit, we eat most of our Salmon either fresh, or freshly frozen.  But once I start fishing for Tillamook Bay Salmon, many of the fish that I personally catch end up in the smoker.  Smoking fish is actually somewhat time consuming and with my schedule as a guide, I really don’t have the time to just sit around and smoke fish all day.  With that in mind, the following is a very simple recipe that will be quickly devoured by family, friends and guests.

In a 12 qt. container mix the following:

2 qt. filtered or well water

1 c. Sea Salt or a quality salt of your choosing

1 3/4 c. pure can sugar (unprocessed)

1-2 tbs. Molasses

1/4 c. Costco, organic no salt seasoning

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and add your Salmon.

This particular brine is good for up to 15 pounds of Salmon fillet.  I like to fillet my Salmon and then cut the fillet into portions.  My cuts run perpendicular to the spine and I’ll narrow the cuts for larger fish with big thick backs.

Time in the brine:   This is one of the two variables on this recipe.  The other we’ll discuss in a minute.  I like to go about 8 hours on 10 pounds of fish and up to 12 hours on 15 pounds

Picture of finished smoked Salmon

A batch of the authors smoked Salmon.

of fish.  I will stir occasionally make sure the brine is having the opportunity get into all of the portions of fish.  When the fish is done being brined, I’ll then briefly rinse all the portions and then take them out to my smoker.

Cook Time:  The other variable….I use two different types of smokers.  We have a Traeger that I will use for smaller amounts of fish.  We also have a couple Big Chiefs that we use when doing over 15 pounds.  I can smoke 15 pounds on the Traeger in the fall with outside temperatures around 60 degrees in 5-6 hours depending on the thickness of the fish.  With the Big Chief I like to go through 3 pans of Alder chips over the course of 10-12 hours.  On smaller fish I may be able to get the fish thoroughly cooked, but quite often I’ll need to put the fish in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes to finish it.

I personally don’t like my fish jerked out, but I don’t like it mushy either.  A moist, brown on the outside piece of fish is ideal for snacking on and cooking with.

Of course learning to smoke fish is a process, but it is nothing that you should be afraid of.  Start with this simple recipe and make small, simple adjustments to the recipe to accommodate your particular taste.  I’ll be writing more on our personal variations in the future and I’d love to hear about your variations and favorite recipes.


Lance Fisher is a professional fishing guide and host of NW Outdoor Adventures on 750 The Game, Freedom 970 and FM News 101 KXL in Portland, Oregon.