When it comes to fishing, catching and cooking trout on an open campfire this is something I love to do, either at home out the back or out in the bush.
As a young kid I had an ability to catch trout nearly every single time I went out (after a few years maybe a decade of practice).
I was lucky to spend some of my childhood on a farm close to a river where I think over about 10 years I saw just three other people fishing!
Mum was the expert at roasting the trout (with almonds, parsley and wine) and dad would cook it in a wire rack on the gas grill outside.
After my studies at university, I started over the next 20 years to try various styles and approaches in detail on how to cook trout perfectly.
Recently I met a friend who used a knife and some green fresh wooden sticks with a little bit of flex to create his own cooking rack (see above pic). That made me decide to write about all these variations that one could use.
How to Cook Trout on a Campfire? Thread fish onto a stick and use 2 Y shaped sticks on either end of the campfire. Other methods involve using sticks to thread through trout or thread fish on a vertical pole.
Wooden Rack Method
In terms of minimalism, this is a fantastic and simple method.
It’s kind of self-explanatory from the photos below:
On a Stick Near Fire
A vertical stick means you have to attach the fish so it doesn’t slip off – the key is to have a stick that does not snap off.
Lots of variations you can use, I haven’t got photos of my inventions, but here is one.
Caste Iron Griddle or Pan
If you’re backpacking hiking this is not going to be the most practical way, but where I fish with my four-wheel-drive truck nearby. The best thing about a cast-iron frying pan is that you can throw it straight on to the embers of the fire.
You can also use a cast-iron grill from the gas grill barbecue giving you that little bit of distance to cook on the embers.
When I was a kid we had family trips down to the river instead of cast-iron pan my parents brought a large wok.
We gathered stones to make a fireplace and put the wok on the fire added oil, cooked rice, chopped vegetables, and meat or seafood then stir-fried the lot flavored with soy sauce.
Simple and delicious!
Wire Rack or Basket
I’ll show you an example of cooking fish with this wire basket, obviously, it’s not a trout but this is the photo that I had available.
This wire fish rack is probably – 30 years old! We used this type alot for trout when I was a kid.
It’s an incredibly simple method and makes it very easy to turn it over whether it’s on a campfire or gas grill or charcoal barbecue. These are really great.
It’s a bit harder to control the heat when you are cooking on embers on a campfire but a good portable smoker does the job.
You get collapsible ones but I would recommend a two-piece one that doesn’t have rivets or anything.
Basically a rectangular container with a lid – like this
All I do is sprinkle half a handful of smoking wood in, like sawdust, wood chips, Grapevine or small chunks of wood.
I wait until it just starts to smoke then I put down the middle wire rack that it comes with and place the trout on top.
You get a bit more smoke flavor if you develop the pellicle, you can read about that here.
The other thing I love about my portable smoker is it’s easy to setup and clean.
I only clean the rack the fish sites on, basically just putting it on an open flame or burner and using heat to sterilize!I don’t bother cleaning the tray or lid – more flavor for next time!
And if you want a bit more detail about portable smokers. Check out this post over here.
Equilbrium Curing for Smoking Trout
This means 0.75% salt to the weight of the meat (hard when you are camping to work it out)
Here is a link to my equilibrium curing calculator if you need it