The 15-18” fish were dispatched and filleted, leaving the skin on, within about an hour of being caught. We used two different methods to flavor them prior to smoking; a brine on half of them, and a dry rub on the other half, just for variety. For the record, we generally prefer the dry rub for more robust flavor.
Brine: Dissolve ½ C Kosher salt and ½ C brown sugar in a small pot of boiling water. Add a few cracked peppercorns. Pour the solution into a container large enough to hold the fillets and a gallon of water, then add gallon of COLD water and some ice. Place fillets flat in the container and allow to rest submerged in a refrigerator for several hours to overnight. Just prior to cooking, remove fillets from brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.
Dry Rub: In a small mixing bowl, add ½ C Kosher salt, 1/2 C dark brown sugar, and a heaping teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Pat fish dry and then rub evenly over the flesh side of fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours to overnight. Dry rub will turn into a thick liquid on the fillets; gently pat off most of it prior to smoking.
Glaze: Melt three tablespoons of butter over low heat, then add 2-3T of agave nectar or honey. Mix thoroughly and keep warm until use.
To smoke: We prefer applewood for smoked fish, but use whatever wood type you have. Bring your smoker up to 250 degrees, then place fillets directly on wire rack skin side down. Smoke for about 75 minutes without opening the lid! The open and brush fillets with the glaze. Smoke for another 15-20 minutes. When done, the flesh should pull cleanly from the skin. Enjoy!