A large, cured trout on a portable smoker

5 Ways to Cook a Trout on the Campfire (Methods)

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

I love fishing, catching, and cooking trout on an open campfire, either at home in the backyard or in the bush.

I’ve tried many ways, and I’ll review each below.

Ways to Cook a Trout on a Campfire

  • Thread fish onto a stick and use 2 Y-shaped sticks on either end
  • Using sticks to thread through trout or thread fish on a vertical pole
  • Cast Iron Griddle, Wok, or Pan
  • Wire Rack or Basket
  • Portable Smoker

As a young kid, I had the special ability to catch trout nearly every time I went out (after a few years, maybe a decade of practice).

It had a lot to do with a stretch of river that only my Dad and I fished for ten years. Then Dairy irrigation lowered the flow to nearly nothing.

I was lucky to spend some of my childhood on a farm close to a river, where, over about ten 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 on a wire rack on the gas grill outside.

Trout on campfire 1 large
Trout and some tasty dry-cured bacon/speck – basic, but it works!

I recently met a friend who used a knife and some green, fresh wooden sticks with a little flex to create his own cooking rack (see the above picture). That made me write about all these variations that one could use.

Wooden Rack Method

In terms of minimalism, this is a fantastic and simple method.

Trout on stick
Nearly Cooked!

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.

You can use lots of variations. I haven’t got photos of my inventions, but here is one.

After a few experiments, if there is rocks or sand, this can be weighed down to hold the stick at an optimal distance and angle to the fire!

Cookng trout campfire

Caste Iron Griddle, Wok or Pan

If you’re backpacking hiking, this is not 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 onto the fire embers.

You can also use a cast-iron grill from a gas barbecue, which gives you a little distance to cook on the embers.

When I was a kid, we had family trips down to the river. Instead of a cast-iron pan, my parents brought a large wok.

We gathered stones to make a fireplace, put the wok on fire, added oil, cooked rice, chopped vegetables, and meat or seafood, and then stir-fried the lot flavored with soy sauce.

Just remember to bring something to wrap the pan or wok, which will be covered in black sot. Using grass around to scrub off most of it helps a lot too.

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 I had available.

This wire fish rack is probably 30 years old! When I was a kid, we used this type a lot for trout.

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It’s an incredibly simple method that makes it very easy to turn the meat over, whether it’s on a campfire, gas grill, or charcoal barbecue. These are really great.

Portable Smoker

It’s a bit harder to control the heat when you cook on embers in 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 below.

Here is a helpful visualization of the salt and sugar dispersion.

Salt curing trout for hot smoking

All I do is sprinkle half a handful of smoking wood, like sawdust, wood chips, Grapevine or small chunks of wood.

I wait until it starts to smoke, then I put down the middle wire rack it comes with and place the trout on top.

Portable smoker smoked trout large
Getting fancy but tasty with almonds and fresh herbs on top

You get more smoke flavor if you develop the pellicle; you can read about that here.

Portable smoker thin blue smoke
My Portable Smoker Thin Blue Smoke

The other thing I love about my portable smoker is it’s easy to set up and clean.

I only clean the rack the fish sites on, just putting it on an open flame or burner and using heat to sterilize it!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.

Equilibrium Curing for Smoking Trout

0.75% Salt

This means 0.75% salt to the weight of the meat (hard when you are camping to work it out)

or about a heaped teaspoon per 2 pounds of trout approximately.

Here is a link to my equilibrium curing calculator if you need it

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