Smoking Pinks Question

patrick barta

Love'em - N - Leave'em
In anticipation of 6.2 million Pinks entering the Sound soon (which I of course plan to catch many) I'm looking to get into the smoking thing.

After doing a little research I know it's a good idea to clean the fish immediately upon catching them and putting the fish on ice.

Is it ok to freeze the fish before smoking?


Active Member
Definitely OK. I read an article a while back, can't remember where, but it actually recommended freezing salmon before smoking it. Something along the lines of the freezing process killing any bacteria that might be in the fish. I've smoked both fresh and frozen and haven't noticed a difference in the result.


Just Another Bubba
My limited "knowledge"
- you can freeze first then smoke, some say you get more smoke flavor this way because of disrupting the integrity of the outer layer of flesh.

- pinks don't freeze raw as well as other salmon...thus their canned history.

My smoker holds about 8 filets (limit) so I just get the system rolling with a batch smoking, a batch brining and coaxing a batch into the cooler.


Well-Known Member
OK? What do you mean by OK? Safe? Yes. Highest quality pink? No f'n way. Pinks don't freeze fer beans. Better to refrigerate a couple days just above freezing until you have a couple limits if that's what you want to smoke. After you smoke it, you can freeze it, and likely no one, even a fish snob, will tell the difference. But if you freeze, thaw, then smoke, you'll end up with OK product, but not the best you could have from your catch.

It's true that you can smoke chinook, coho, and sockeye after freezing and thawing, but that's because they are more than an order of magnitude better to begin with.

I'm an admitted salmon snob, but I don't mind eating fresh pink salmon handled correctly - bled and iced immediately after landing - or having some smoke pink salmon. It's not the best, but done well it is good.



Geriatric Skagit Swinger
I normally smoke a pink or two with every pair of Nikes or old leather belts that I smoke up. Friends and neighbors can never tell the difference and always compliment me on the fine smoked running shoes I prepare.

Tom Palmer

Active Member
I'm with the crowd that says "no" to freezing pinks before throwing in the smoker. They are at their best (like all salmon) prepared properly after catching, killing and getting on ice quickly. However as noted their flesh can get "mushy" very quickly and freezing accelerates the process in uncooked fish.

I only retain ocean-bright pinks. No humps, no coloration. Smoking couldn't be easier- brine overnight, rinse, let air-dry to form the pellicle and throw in the smoker.

Because pinks are so small I find it only takes a couple hours in my Big Chief smoker and they are ready to go (and delicious).