Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smokin' Good

Now that we have frozen and canned a winter's worth of Sockeye, we turned our attention to the smoker. For our anniversary last year I bought Chris a Bradley electric smoker.

We decided to make some candied salmon this time. The recipe is simple, when you have fresh beautiful Sockeye the key is to not add too many flavours.

4 fish (8 fillets) fills our smoker perfectly - the fish we chose averaged 6lbs each.

Filet and skin the fish. Cut the salmon into thin strips.

Combine 1kg of Demerara brown sugar, 1 cup coarse salt, and 1 cup molasses. Layer the salmon with the sugar mixture in a glass or plastic container with a lid (do not use metal)

Store the container in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Stir every 8 hours to move the top pieces to the bottom.

When you are ready to smoke, lightly rinse the salmon under cold water to remove excess salt and lay out on the smoker racks. Do not forget to spray the racks with a non-stick spray to make removal and cleanup easier.

Place the pieces on the racks according to size. Different thickness will require different smoking times.

Allow the fish to dry until tacky. Do not rush this step! It could take an couple of hours. The extra moisture from the rinsing will not allow the salmon to smoke consistently. You can speed up the process by positioning a fan nearby.

Once you are ready to smoke your fish just follow the instructions on your smoker. For our Bradley we used smoke only (oven off) for 3 hours. There are many different bisquettes available for the Bradley, this time we use a Crown Royal flavoured one.

The smallest pieces were removed and another two hours was needed for the thicker pieces.

Once removed from the smoker I glazed the pieces with maple syrup and let them sit again until dry.

Now you can enjoy your candied salmon! I had to vacuum seal and freeze some right away before it all disappeared.

- Posted by Pink Waders from my iPhone

Friday, June 24, 2011

This Isn't Chicken of the Sea

We have had such a successful Sockeye season so far. Our freezers are full so we will be eating delicious salmon through the winter! We filet, vacuum seal and freeze the fish as soon as possible so that it stays as fresh as possible. Here is a picture of Dana and Chris prepping a stack of filets for the freezer.

Yesterday Dana and I turned our attention to filling our pantries with canned salmon. I will share the technique we used but you should always check the official guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation whenever you can food at home.

Tools you will need:

Pressure canner
Clean 250ml or 500ml wide mouth jars
Seals and rings for the jars
Jar lifters

We like to skin the salmon before canning, but many people leave it on for it's nutritional benefits. Cut the fish into chunks.

Next pack the jars tightly with salmon, use a non-metal utensil to get out any air pockets (I use a chopstick). We did 250ml jars yesterday an added 1/2 tsp salt to each one.

Wipe the rims with a clean paper towel soaked with vinegar. The rims must be free of residue to ensure a tight seal.

Soak the seals in hot (but not quite boiling) water for a few minutes to soften the rubber. Place a seal on each jar and then twist on the ring (turn until tight but don't twist too hard)

My canner calls for 3L of water to be added, but check the manufacturers instructions for your canner. Stack the jars in the canner.

Time and pressure needed depend on your altitude. Since we are at sea level we canned at 11lbs of pressure for 100 minutes.

Once the canner has cooled enough to depressurize, remove the jars and listen for the satisfying 'pop' of the jars sealing.

Let the jars rest for 24 hours before wiping them off and storing them. The ten sockeye we did yesterday filled 45 250ml jars with fresh, delicious fish our families will enjoy this fall and winter. Each time I open one of those jars I will be reminded of the great time we had catching the fish!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sockeyefest 2011

We are home from Sockeyefest 2011. We have been talking about this trip for almost a year now, and it was a great success! We caught our limit of our favourite salmon plus we all had a fantastic time on the boat and camping. The China Creek Marina and Campground is situated perfectly for catching Sockeye this time of year. You can walk to the marina from your campsite, great fishing is only a few minutes boat ride away, a little further out and you can catch springs and bottom fish as well. The fishing was hot the days we were there, and by yesterday the word had spread and there were a lot of boats in the inlet.

First Fish Makes the 4am Wake Up Call Worthwhile!

Time To Stop for Breakfast!

We had fantastic weather the entire time we were there. No rain, not too hot and calm waters, can't ask for more than that! As always, the amazing views provided by Vancouver Island's mountains, trees, wildlife and waterways were like icing on the fishing cake!

Dana doesn't fish but both of the Jester's kids got in on the action and had fun on the boat with us. Kristina is a tough cookie and reeled in her own fish with just a little help from dad.

So Proud! Brandon and I named this fish Bernie

It was amazing how feisty and acrobatic the Sockeye in the ocean are compared to the river where we usually fish for them. They were flying through the air, jumping over the net and one particularly ornery fellow rammed himself into the side of the boat. We were running four rods off two downriggers and a few times we had triple headers. This situation always resulted in mayhem on board as we danced around the other rods and the net to try and land the fish, this usually ended with none of the fish on board. When I suggested that we avoid the circus by ignoring the third rod, the Jester looked appalled and I was informed hat it is better to lose all the fish than to ignore a 'Fish On'. I think poking each other with rods and jumping over each other to avoid a tangle was the boys favourite part, I guess grown men will always have a little bit of 10 year old boy in them!

Double Header - one in the boat and one ready to be netted

Jen and Jacqui came for a visit

Captain Chris searching for Sockeye

Happiness Is... Good Friends and Tight Lines!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fishon-Fishoff goes camping

Today was the first day of a five day fishing/camping trip we have been planning since winter. The boys drove the boat up to the China Creek Marina Campground this morning. They quickly set up camp and then headed out in search of Sockeye. Even though they were in the water too late for the morning bite, they still had a successful afternoon on the water, catching their limit of shiny Sockeye!

They sent me this picture of a very happy Jester with the day's haul!

Dana, the kids and I will be joining them tomorrow and I can't wait to get in on the action! They were on their own tonight and the Jester was playing chef.

It was an early morning and a long day of setting up camp and reeling in fish, hopefully the Prince summoned the energy to make it from this chair to the tent!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gong Show on the River

Chris and Kris have continued to fish for Sockeye over the past week and the stock pile in the freezer is starting to look great. The three of us headed out the other day and unfortunately the river level was ridiculously high. On a good day there is very little fishable shoreline, but on this day it was about 20 feet across. I opted to sit this one out and just sat back to watch the show. This picture will give you an idea of how insanely tight the fishing can be on a weekend evening

For me there is nothing relaxing about getting into this line of men getting frustrated and annoyed with each other. The Jester and Prince stood in the water on the edge of a sharp drop off (never never would you find me there!) and had a lot of success in this spot out of the chaos a few feet away. The boys both caught their limits on this evening and I got a show better than any action flick at the theatre.

As mentioned in my previous post, often when you get a fish on in this spot you have to take it over the falls, away from the crowd to be able to land it. I managed to catch my fishing buddies carrying out one of these fish rescues on video. I will have to warn you that this is rated PG-13 as it includes an unintentional wardrobe malfunction.

Although I only managed about a dozen casts on this particular evening, I did manage to accomplish y first injury of the season. As I completed that magnificent video, I slipped on the wet rocky shore and landed on my leg and backside on a jagged rock and into a pool of water. After a drying out period my IPhone is as good as new, my leg on the other hand is sporting some interesting cuts and a massive purple bruise (I have a matching one in a more delicate area). I will include this picture to illicit some sympathy, as I am not happy with the amount given by my fishing partners!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First fish of the summer

Well the day we have been waiting for finally arrived, Sockeye season is here! The Prince had to work tonight but the Jester and I made the hour drive to Port Alberni and headed straight for Papermill Dam.

As usual the place was packed, definitely not the most relaxing place to fish, but the only place to catch those delicious sockeye from the shore. We had our lines in the water by 5:30pm and began the quick and furious casting that this little stretch of river demands.

After about 45 minutes and a couple of fish-on fish-off calls from us both, Kris had the first player. The fish quickly went over the falls and he scampered (literally) down the rocky shore chasing the shiny silver fish. He reappeared about ten minutes later with no fish and a big scowl on his face. I asked him to tell me the story of what happened to that fish but he didn't want to talk about it!

About 20 minutes later I had a fish on and since I was not about to scamper down the falls I just began muscling him in, as usual all the men around started giving me advice so I passed the rod to the Jester so they would back off. He somehow forgot I was left-handed and loosened the drag and POOF my fish took off down the falls. Kris went after him and triumphantly returned moments later with my fish in hand. So technically I caught her, but the Jester landed her (still going in my column on the tally board)

Soon Kris had another on the line and once again he was running down the falls. The next details are a little sketchy but when he came back up with his fish he was went from the waist down. I'm not sure how a three pound salmon manage to pull him into the river, but I'm sad I did not catch it on camera.

We did not stay much longer as the place was still busy and the Jester was looking a bit uncomfortable in wet Wranglers!

All told it was a fun and productive start to the season. The boys are headed back there tomorrow night, hopefully this time some dry clothes will be in the backpack.

My shiny fish filleted into three meals for the freezer!

- Posted by Pink Waders from my iPhone

Location:Port Alberni