When I was a kid, I worked at a fish camp in Alaska and my parents always wanted me to bring home salmon after the summer was over. Trouble was, traveling from Aniak, Alaska, to West Palm Beach took more than a day, so bringing fresh fish back cold was impossible, and like most oily fish, salmon doesn't taste so great after it's been frozen. If you're a traveling angler, you've probably also struggled with ways to get fresh fish home before it goes bad or thaws. Here's a suggestion: Smoke your catch, or get it smoked. That's what I did with the salmon and that's what I do for out-of-town guests that fish with me. It's always a hit.
Smoked fish won't quickly go bad unless you leave it in the heat, it transports easily, and makes a wonderful, healthy gift. Popular, abundant species that are great for smoking include Spanish, cero and king mackerel. Amberjack is another favorite. Really any species that's big enough to bother smoking tastes great that way, either on crackers with cheese or whipped into fish dip.
If you're staying someplace that has some capacity to smoke fish, be it a grill or an actual smoker, here's a simple recipe that I love.
Most fishing destinations have a local smoke house. Here in the Stuart area, it's the legendary Mrs. Peters. Check with your guide or knowledgeable locals wherever you plan on visiting. Tip: It usually takes two or three days for the smokehouse to process your catch, so make sure you bring it in time to pick up before you leave, or have them ship it to you.
Be sure to abide by bag, possession and transport limits, which vary from species to species. Click here for rules and regulations. It is illegal to trade your fish catch in for fish that's already smoked.