Wreck fishing leads to wrecking some fish dip!! July 2017

Consolation prizes. Rarely is there a time when your second place prize is quite possibly better than the first place trophy you were looking for. But when it is, it makes an impression.

Most of the time when my Triton leaves the canal the objective is fresh fish. How we target it, and what kind of fresh fish we get, often varies from day to day. But there are some days when all of your primary objectives don’t go so well. And on days like those I am very thankful that I live in an area of this country with so many awesome angling options.

One such day arrived when we were offshore targeting mahi-mahi. We really put the time in that day but only had a few fish to show for it. And, by the time we were ready to throw in the towel, the clock wasn’t our friend. We briefly discussed the options we had and decided hard pulling fish were on the menu. After a quick check on the gps to see where we were, we made the run to a close by wreck in 235 feet of water. We show up and the screen is lit up and we start dropping jigs down towards the bottom. On the first drop we had a double hookup. One fish gets eaten(lots of sharks on those wrecks) but the other comes boat side and into the cooler. Our target was amberjacks but this happened to be it’s better tasting cousin the Almaco Jack!! We repeat this process over the next 90mins or so and had a blast! We ended up with a boat limit of fish as well as making sure that no sharks on that wreck went hungry for the day. After a comfortable run back home it was time for some fish cleaning.

I explained to my guys that while a lot of people like to eat jacks fresh, my favorite way by far is to smoke it and make some dip. And, because they were all locals, I said that I would smoke it for them and they could just come pick it up when I finished. Of course, I was going to get a taste as well because, lets be honest, smoked fish is one of my favorite things in this world. So after I finished processing the filets, I whipped up a batch of brine(recipe below) and let the fish soak overnight. The next day when I woke up I pulled the fish out of the brine and set it out on cookie drying racks. I let it sit there until the surface of the fish no longer looked wet but had a shiny look to it. That lets me know that salt is forming a barrier that will keep the moisture of the fish from escaping during the smoking process. This takes 2hrs give or take, and once the fish was ready, I fired up the smoker.

I use a large barrel smoker which I’ve owned longer than I’ve been married. It may not be the prettiest thing but it sure does make some fine tasting fish!! I arranged the brined jack out on the grates and close the lid down on it. Now with my smoker I need to add charcoal about every 90mins. I like to do my smoking low and slow, 250 degrees or so. This makes my fish just how I like it…..slightly drier and kinda crispy on the edges. But it takes a while…..4hrs plus a while. But it’s well worth it in my opinion. After the fish looks how I want it to, I pull it off and let it cool on the same drying racks as before. And, once it’s cooled down, its my wifes turn to work her magic. She takes a whole list of ingredients(again, see below) and a ton of my fish…..well more than half of the dip is fish…..and she adds it to the kitchenaid mixer in big pieces. I like my dip chunky, but if you like it smoother then you can add all these ingredients to a food processer. Either way, it’s the closest thing to heaven on Ritz cracker that I’ve ever found!! Top it off with some diced jalapenos and banana peppers and it’ll make you call your neighbors over just to share in your happiness. I hope you all enjoy it too!! Not bad for a consolation prize, huh?

Until next time, Tight Lines!!

Brine:

1 Beer(I prefer something tasty like a lager or a stout)
1 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup Lemon Juice
2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Salt(not sea salt or rock salt)
1 tbs Black Pepper
1 tbs Onion Powder
1 tbs Garlic Powder
1 tbs Parsley Flakes
2 tbs Red Pepper Flakes

Fish Dip Recipe

4oz Cream Cheese
1 Jalapeno(seeds and ribs removed)
1/2 chopped Red Onion
1 Lime(Juiced)
1 tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbs Parsley Flakes
1/4 cup mayo
Salt and Pepper to taste

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