After they're caught and cleaned, try making some smoked catfish from a few of the fillets. This recipe takes a little time and effort, but it's worth it. And it's a nice change of pace from eating fried catfish.
Any type of catfish can be smoked, even whole, skinned smaller ones. But the easiest to work with are fillets from larger cats.
To give the fish a good flavor and the right texture, it needs to be brined for a few hours before smoking. To make the catfish brine, combine...
Mix until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
For best results, use fillets that are about the same size and thickness. Thinner fillets take less time to brine and less time to smoke. If you're brining and smoking whole sides, trim them to a consistent thickness. And if you haven't already, remove the skin from the fillets.
Use a non-reactive container to brine in. That would include glass, ceramic, crockery, plastic and stainless steel. You can even use a couple of gallon freezer bags to brine in.
One gallon of brine is enough for 5 to 6 pounds of fillets. Get 2 freezer bags and place about 3 pounds of cat fillets and 1/2 gallon of the brine in each of 'em.
Place the bags in a large bowl (in case they spring a leak) and put it in the fridge. Brine the fillets for 1 to 4 hours, depending on fillet thickness. Give them one hour per half-inch of thickness. Move the catfish around a few times while it's in the fridge for even brining.
Time's Up! Remove the catfish from the bags and give the fillets a quick rinse. Pat dry with clean towels.
Lay the fillets on a raised rack, so air can reach both sides. Let the fish air dry for an hour or so at room temperature, until it's not sticky. Aim a small fan towards the fish to speed up drying time.
You can smoke catfish in a regular smoker or in a grill. Keep the temperature of the smoker or grill in the 190-200 degree range. If the smoker temperature gets too hot, the juices will bleed out of the fish and it won't be as moist.
Apple or cherry is good wood to use. It won't take a whole lot, either. One good fist sized chunk, or a couple handfuls of water soaked chips wrapped in foil should do it. And if it's not smokey enough for you, use more the next time.
Continue smoking the catfish until it flakes. Remove it and let it cool before eating. Your smoked catfish will keep stored in the fridge for up to three days. For longer storage, wrap the fillets in plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze them. They will keep 6 months in the freezer.
Teriyaki Catfish -- Marinate fillets in teriyaki sauce, chopped green onions and garlic. To cook them, use the grill-smoking method. They can be marinated overnight for richer flavor.
Easy Catfish Recipe -- Soak these in a simple brine for a short time. Season them with coarse ground black pepper. Smoke 'em with your favorite type of wood chips.