FOR almost 18 years, Deano Williams has been growing trout.
In that time, the Black Mountain producer has gained interest from big names, including Sydney-based celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, and supplies to restaurants and co-ops in Brisbane and Coffs Harbour.
“I put them through a drying process and then I smoke them (in a big oven) for about 3.5 hours with beech wood and oak wood,” Mr Williams, owner of Deanos Spring Water Smoked Trout, told The Express this week.
“It gives them a nice smokey flavour and keeps moisture in the fish.”
Mr Williams said the New England was a prime area for trout, due to the cooler climate.
The local producer has eight grow-out ponds and produces around a tonne of yabbies each year. “I grow anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 (trout) out there per year,” he said.
Mr Williams has a recreational dam for visitors to enjoy a barbecue and fish. “I’m working on building a cafe in here (next to the recreational dam),” he said.
“The builders are also doing toilets and showers so the caravans can pull up and stay for the night.”
The former shearer said he got into the fish business after working on prawn boats up north for a couple of years. “I came back here as a full-time shearer for 18 years and this was just a bit of a hobby on the weekends,” he said.
“Now I’ve turned it into a full-time job.”
An average day at the farm can start pretty early, he said. “When I do cook days I’m down here around 4.30am to put the cook on so it finishes about 8.30am ready to process,” he said.
“I’ve also got to fillet the fish and we smoke them whole. “Sometimes we put a bit of flavour on them like dill or bush lemon.”
Mr Williams can process around 140 fish at a cook.
“During busy times I’m probably smoking three or four times a week,” he said.
In two more weeks a big drag net will harvest the trout, just in time for the TroutFest where Mr Williams will have a stall.
IGA and T&A Meats in Guyra also sell the local product.