Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600582
Split small dressed fish down the back so that they lie flat. Cut large fish into two fillets, removing the backbone. Always remove gills but not the collarbone just behind the gills. The collarbone supports the weight of the fish and is especially useful when the brined fish is to be smoked. Without it, the fish will fall off the smokehouse hangers. Pieces should be small enough to lie flat in the crock. For good salt penetration, score the flesh of the thickest pieces lengthwise, about 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Do not pierce the skin. Soak the fish 1/2 hour in brine (1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon cold water) to draw off blood. Then drain the pieces while you prepare the salt.