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by Keith Jackson of 

Salmon Trout Steelheader

Hockey Anyone?

When it comes to pucks, most folks think of hockey, right? I mean, after all, comedian Don Rickles calling folks he disagreed with “hockey pucks” may have something to do with it.

However, for steelhead and salmon fishermen, “puck” now has a different connotation. And that’s thanks to Peterson Pucks, a Longview, Wash., company that makes pucks designed for smokers.

While you might have in mind asthmatic hockey players after the Don Rickles note, what these pucks are is compressed wood for use in smokers—not by smokers, a big difference there.

Peterson Pucks make the pucks from alder—my favorite—maple or cherry. While all three are good woods with which to smoke, for fish it’s alder, hands down. Granted, that’s my opinion, and your mileage may vary.

What makes the pucks really noteworthy is two things: they’re dead easy to use, and in many ways they are better than chips themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experimented a lot with different woods to use in my Little Chief smoker just as I’ve experimented with several different smokers (and even built a couple).

I’ve tried alder, green apple and cherry, rosemary bay myrtle, maple and dried versions of the same. If I’m using a lowtemperature smoker with the heating element in the box, such as the Little Chief, then chips were my hands-down favorite before I ran into Peterson Pucks.

The pucks themselves are a little over 2.5 inches in diameter and about 7/8-inch thick. The size is just right for putting two in the pan of your smoker, and if you stack another on top of each, then you have enough puck to last for two or two-and-a-half hours.

What I like is that the pucks give a slightly hotter fire, which means that the fish is done sooner, an especially good thing when you’re trying to smoke fish during the winter or in wind.

Another feature is that the pucks burn completely except for a slight dusting of ash, so you really get more bang for your puck… Having said that, you may need another course of pucks to get your fish done to your liking; it really depends upon too many variables to predict accurately.

The pucks are compressed sawdust and chips of one of the species of wood. There are no binders or additives to get the little buggers to stick together; it’s all done with compression.

And speaking of bucks, er, pucks, one package runs about as long as four bags of chips.

Check out the website for a video on how Brent Peterson smokes fish (as well as cheese) using his pucks. As an added bonus, you can place a puck directly on a grill in your barbecue for adding a smoke flavor.

For more information, go to: www. or call 360-425-4170.

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