Time to Smoke Some Trout

Spring is a great time to catch trout in Colorado. Use these simple tips to smoke trout and add an exciting new flavor to your salads, pasta and more.
Rainbow trout
Trout caught at Stagesoach State Park. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW
CPW Fishing App

If you have a smoker or have been thinking about getting one, spring is a great time to smoke trout. Every spring, Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks large numbers of trout in waters all around the state. An easy way to find productive fishing spots is to download the CPW Fishing App and check the “Conditions Reports” and “Stocking Reports” in the “Tackle Box” section of the App. 

Trout are fairly easy to catch once you learn the basics. If you’re new to fishing, read “Spring Fishing Tips: A Beginner’s Guide To Catching Trout.” 

Success? Now let’s take those trout and fire up the smokers!

Creating a Brine

I’m not sure if I’ve ever used the same recipe for smoking trout, but I always start with these basic ingredients. 

  • 4 or more whole trout, cleaned
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 gallon water

Smoking Prep and Instructions

Preparing the Brine

Clean trout before brining. Create the brine by mixing the chili powder, salt and brown sugar with a gallon of water. Make sure that you stir mixture long enough to completely dissolve the salt and brown sugar. 

Brining Trout 

Add trout to a container that is large enough to be completely covered by the brine. Pour the brine over the trout, making sure that you completely cover the fish. Put the covered container in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. 

Prepping Trout for Smoker

Remove the trout from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the trout dry with paper towels. Next, set the trout on a rack over a baking sheet and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Proper drying of fish before smoking allows fish to form a pellicle, which will seal in moisture and provide a better looking finished product. 

Smoking Your Trout

smoked fish propped open by toothpick
For best flavor, prop your fish open with a toothpick.

Depending on the type of smoker that you have, you can add trout to racks or hang. I recommend using toothpicks to prop fish open. This will allow smoke to fully penetrate fish for a delicious tasting trout. I’ve found the best results with my smoker are achieved when I set the smoker temperature to 225°f and smoke trout for 3½ hours. You may find different times and temperatures work better for your smoker, but I recommend smoking for at least two hours and no more than 4 hours.

When your trout are fully smoked, you can eat them warm or cold and add them to salads, pasta, omelets and many other dishes. Please share any of your smoking tips or smoked trout recipes in the comments below.

Smoked trout
Smoked Trout

Don’t forget your license!
Annual fishing licenses are valid March 1 through March 31 (13 months). CPW provides a range of options for anglers from the annual fishing license to the one-day fishing license. ​Youth under age 16 fish for free.​ Buy a fishing license today​!​​​​​ ​​​


Written by Doug Skinner. Doug is an editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is a media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

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