Da worst ting about smokin fish….

Is keepin ’em lit!

I know I know, bad joke!  But was thinking about years back and how lots of fishermen’s stages had a smoker on the side of them.  I don’t recall any ever in use, but Roy’s stage back in Apsey Brook had one, and was often a good spot to hide when playing hide and seek. It was just a tin lined “chimney” with nails sticking out going up the sides.  Roy, and of course whoever else used them would hang caplin or herring up in them, light a fire at the bottom, generally with alder wood, and smoke them to make… well smoked caplin and kippers!

I love the taste of smoked fish of all varieties, and when we got a little older, Eric and I bought a little electric smoker between us.  Had a little element in the bottom with a small pan, and we’d add wood chips and let them smolder to smoke our own kippers, and lots of other things, but mostly trout and our own moose and beef jerky!

We could buy all kinds of chips, and of course get our own alder, and sometimes apple and others.  We’d experiment with making different brines to add different flavours (hmmm did I ever tell the story of “Who put the salt in the punch?”) and smoke lots of different things, including trying cheese on one or two occasions.

Junior Patey used to love trouting, but he was never really find of the trout, so he’d freeze a lot for his family, but one day he tried the smoked ones Eric and I made, and he loved them, and whats not to love? Its like fish bacon!  Anyway, over the next few weeks he emptied his freezer of trout and smoked them all!

I know Eric still smokes stuff now, and I do too, tho for me its smoking bought stuff as there’s not many trouting holes here in the city (plus I have no idea if half these weird fish up here are fit to eat anyway, I liked that we had trout and only trout back home).  Eric sent me up some jerky he made last year, and I think it lasted all of 20 minutes, cause I was sparing it along!

Anyway, keep yer fish lit, and have a smoky ole day!

Rolling on the beach

Caplin-1280Its not the Adele song, its the caplin spawn! About this time of year we start to see caplin coming ashore on the beaches to spawn.  Back when I was younger they’d come further up the sound than now, and we’d see tons of them up in Apsey Brook.  Didn’t see that as often at least up until I moved away.

I think that’s mainly because when I was a lad, there was really no commercial use for them.  People caught them for food and that was about it, but later on, their roe became popular with the Japanese market, and a large commercial fishery took off.

These small smelt like fish would teem near shore and we’d go down and pick them up in dip nets, five gallon buckets, and cast nets, getting tons and tons.

Cast Net


Some we’d eat fresh, though I was never fond of them this way, but the majority we’d salt and sun dry or smoke.  A common site was to see caplin racks like those pictured all over the island, caplin hung on them, pierced through the eye, to dry. For me, one of my favorite things to eat is a dried smoked caplin, its almost like fish jerky!  Or dare I say it, fish bacon! So delicious!

Commercially, they were also a good way for us younger folks to make a few extra dollars, as the plants would pay us to pick the males from the females. Males were used for fish meal, food, or what have you, while the females were milked for the roe.

Not sure the caplin racks are very common anymore now, or how many we see rolling on the beach, but I’m sure people still call the damp foggy days in late June caplin weather.

I think now I’m going to have to head out and find some caplin, still see some smoked ones from Golden Shell fisheries in the stores here sometimes!