We are located in Lincolnshire surrounded by prime agricultural land next to the wash. The area is criss crossed by many rivers and drains emptying into the Wash and the Humber. Throughout this area we have been catching eels for over 30 years. Our family has always been catching something, our great great grandad and grandad were fishermen catching shrimps, cockles, fish and eels in the summer and flight netting for ducks and geese in the winter on the Friskney mudflats in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
But it was eels I started trapping in 1975, after catching them on rod and line during my youth. Eels are always sold live, and at that time Billingsgate market in London was the place to go. I first went to the old market near Tower Bridge which has now gone and is covered in sky scarpers and then later to the new Billinsgate Market at Canary Wharf.
It was about 1990 that i delivered the first load of eels to Holland by small lorry. Whilst delivering to the Dutch smokehouse’s we were able to see first hand the techniques on how they smoked them. During this time my son Chris joined me and in 2001 we decided to use the knowledge that we had gained from the Dutch smokehouse’s to start Smith’s Smokery. Although many of our eels still go to Holland alive we are smoking more and more as demand and awareness increase.
There has been a lot of negative publicity in the last couple of years about the supposed decline of the eel but we believe we have a sustainable source. Most of our eels are caught on the East Coast where no elvers are caught, this allows rivers and other waters to keep well stocked. Our yearly catch has not changed during the last 15-20 years.
Smith’s Smokery attend most Farmers Markets throughout the East Midlands, and we have added other lines mainly by request during the last few years . This variety allows us to appeal to more customers.
We smoke over open fire with logs and sawdust using old fashioned smoking kilns brought over from Holland. Beech is used for eels and oak for other foods. There are no flavouring or preservatives used in the brine’s just a little salt, this allows to taste the real flavour of the smoked fish and meats.