Start this before going to bed at night so it will be ready to smoke the next morning.
Clean fish, leaving skin on. If you are using bass, scale them, but leave skin on. Take heads off. I clean & save my bigger fish in the freezer, whole, until I have enough for a smoker full.
For large fish, cut into 2 1/2" steaks with bone in them. Cut it like you would cut a steak off of a whole piece of beef. For somewhat smaller fish, leave whole.
In large non-corosive pan or bowl, make salt brine using enough canning salt to float an egg. Make sure you have a good egg to start out with by putting it in plain water first & if it sinks, the egg is good. If it floats without salt in water, the egg is bad. Throw it away & try again. Usually takes me about 1 1/2 cup of salt to 1 gallon water. Make sure salt is dissolved before placing egg in it.
Place fish in salt solution & make sure the salt water covers the fish completely. Do not pack fish tightly. Let sit in fridge overnight or 10 hours.
Next morning, rinse & drain fish good. Set aside & get smoker ready.
Place water pan, full of water, below where you will smoke fish in smoker. Using a hot plate in homemade smoker, add soaked chips to hot plate pan. Lay fish on foil lined smoker shelves with the raw side of fish laying on the foil. May have to poke a few holes in foil to drain off juices. Smoke fish for 6-8 hours @175°, turning fish over about half way through process.
Fish will be done when the outer skin of fish is sorta dry & pulling away from bones. Don't overcook or it will be too dry.
NOTE: If you use a homemade smoker, use greener wood or soak in water. A mixture of Hickory & Cherrywood or Applewood makes good smoke.
*May also use carp, but I prefer the others. Any fatty fish will work for this.
When fish is done, transfer to trays to air cool. Let cool & then place in covered containers & place in fridge overnight to firm up.
Next day, debone & take skin off the fish, leaving fish in as big of pieces as possible to keep it from drying out. I vacuum pack mine in small packages & place in fridge until ready to use. I tried the freezer, but found that it toughens the fish. I have kept it in a vacuum bag in fridge for over a year at a time & when I go to open it, it tastes like it did the day it was made.
Enjoy this fish along side your other appetizers with or without crackers.