For Fairfield Harbour fishermen the thrill of the catch can only be trumped by the thrill of the dinner! When your dinner is the freshest Mahi Mahi and Wahoo available, dinner is a treat. Members of the Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club boarded Bill Collector, a 52 foot Custom Carolina Sportfisherman, on September 20 for a run to the Gulf Stream. The catch was rewarding with 11 Wahoo (4 citations, 52, 46, 46, 40LB), 30 Mahi Mahi, one Blackfin Tuna and four Sailfish which were caught and released.
Angler Larry Knapp is a master when it comes to smoking Mahi Mahi and wahoo. Larry knows brining is necessary to keep the fish stay moist and flavorful, especially critical if you're hot-smoking the fish, since the heat and smoke can really dry out a piece of fish. There are many brining recipes out there but here is one of Larry’s favorites.
· 1 gallon of water
· 2 cups of kosher salt
· 1 cup of brown sugar
· 1/3 cup of lemon juice
· 2 smashed garlic cloves
· ½ cup of chopped onion
· 1 table spoon of fresh ground pepper
· 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
· 4 bay leaves
How to Make It:
Cut the fish in uniform serving size pieces and soak in the brine for a minimum of 2 hours.
Remove the fish and place on racks to air dry at least an hour. This forms a pelicula, a tacky skin to keep the moisture and flavor in while smoking the fish.
Additional spices may be added as a coating to the sticky pelicula before or after smoking. Cracked pepper is a standard and Larry’s favorite, but dill and other fresh herbs work well.
Place the racks in a pre-heated smoker for one to three hours checking the fish for flakiness to determine when it’s done.
It’s great warm from the smoker or cold from the fridge, and vacuum-sealed pieces will stay great for many months. Add a cold beer and you are all set!
The fishermen (l to r) Bob Bruggeworth, Jeff Jones, Don Yuska, Larry Knapp, Mike Smith and Jack Brooks. The flags represent four sailfish caught and released.
Mahi, the moment hooked, are magnificent fighters. The name Mahi-mahi comes from Hawaii meaning to say “Strong-strong.” Tailwalking as well as amazing aerial shows may occur. Fish are known to scream line off of a reel from one direction, only to do an about-face and take the battle in the other direction.
Trolling, jigging, casting, as well as chunking are all outstanding ways to catch Mahi. Trolling is the ideal method for locating these fish. Most Mahi are found and caught while looking for other sport fish, such as Tuna or Marlin.