How to Smoke a Trout

by Peggy Epstein

Items you will need

  • Smoker
  • Charcoal
  • Wood chips
  • Large pot
  • Seasonings
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Trout
  • Meat thermometer

It’s great to bring back a stringer of trout from your favorite brook (or a select batch from your local fish market) and smoke them for a taste that can’t be matched. After smoking, a trout’s delicious flesh just pulls away from the skin and bone, making a very tasty treat. With very little effort, trout can be smoked and stored for up to a week in the refrigerator and a month in the freezer.

How to Smoke a Trout

Step 1

Fill the large pot with water and soak the wood chips. Experiment with different kinds of wood chips to determine which best suits your taste. For fish in general, fruit woods such as apple or cherry provide excellent flavor.

Step 2

Put charcoal into the fire pan of your smoker and soak with charcoal starter. After the starter has had a chance to soak in, ignite the charcoal and wait until there is an even gray ash over all the coals. (Alternately, use a chimney-style charcoal lighter to avoid using lighter fluid).

Step 3

Clean the trout by making a cut from the anus to and through the lower lip. Pull out the guts and gills and discard. Rinse the trout in clear, cold water.

Step 4

Dry the fish with paper towels and sprinkle your favorite seasonings on both the inside and outside. Use any seasonings you like, but basic garlic salt, pepper, and dill are always a good combination.

Step 5

Spray the cooking racks in your smoker with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the trout on the racks bottom-side down, spread open with enough space between the fish to allow the smoke pass between the fish.

Step 6

Take handfuls of the soaked wood chips and distribute evenly over all the charcoal and close the smoker door. Small trout should only take about an hour to cook, and larger ones will cook in an hour and a half to two hours. The trout are done when the internal temperature registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.


  • Some people like to make a brine out of kosher salt and water and soak the fish for an hour before smoking.


  • Avoid using soft wood such as pine or poplar for wood chips because they do not provide a good flavor and will build up creosote inside your smoker. Hard woods such as oak, hickory, or mesquite because they will impart a bitter taste to fish.

References (2)

  • Park, Lue, and Ed Park. The Smoked-foods Cookbook: How to Flavor, Cure, and Prepare Savory Meats, Game, Fish, Nuts, and Cheese. Stackpole Books. 1992
  • Jamison, Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Smoke and Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue. Harvard Common Press. 2003

About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.