DIY Fish Smoker from a Filing Cabinet

  • Grant Dixon

One Tree Point residents Angela and Nick Moon have Bream Bay and Whangarei harbour at their doorstep. Here, consistently productive fishing ensures that there is always plenty of kaimoana to put through a smoker.

The idea to build a new smoker came when Angela’s bowling club decided to get rid of an old multi-drawer steel filing cabinet, which the Moon’s thought they could potentially convert into a good smoker (with a bit of Kiwi ingenuity and elbow grease).

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Fish are placed on the racks in the drawers.

They started by stripping the inside drawers, which they then recoated with heat-resistant paint. A gas ring was fitted to the bottom drawer, with an oven tray above to hold the sawdust. Holes were then drilled in the top drawers to allow the smoke to circulate through, and a barbecue thermometer placed on the side which allowed them to adjust the gas supply accordingly to the temperature inside.

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Angela says they generally smoke their fish for three hours, with the temperature ideally around the 200 degrees F mark. They replenish the sawdust on a regular basis, and then put small green manuka branches on top of the sawdust to get a good smoke going.

A barbecue thermometer has been added to the side of the smoker so the temperature can be controlled.

They use a mix of common salt and brown sugar to brine the fish, allowing the fillets to marinate in the fridge for several hours before putting them in the smoker. They smoke not only the fillets, but the heads and frames as well – no point wasting all the sweetest meat!

Bream Bay snapper at its best.  Note the whole fish has been utilised, including the head and fin.

Their fishing techniques are usually a mixture of bait and berley in the harbour, with piper being one of their favourite offerings. Other times they try soft-baiting in the wider Bream Bay area, where Angela says “Motor Oil” is their favourite soft-bait colour. – Grant Dixon


April 2022 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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