I recently became the beneficiary of a fine charcoal smoker and decided that my first attempt should be a smoked salmon. I was a little worried that I would turn this beautiful fish into uneatable shoe leather, but I was game for a culinary adventure.
My smoker is an indirect cooker with a metal bowl between the top grill and the charcoal. I started the charcoal in my chimney and after about 20 minutes, I dumped the hot coals into the bottom pan of the smoker. Then the water bowl goes in, this gives the moisture that keeps the meat from drying out, it also is a way to add flavor. Wine, beer, fresh herbs pretty much anything you would like, to impart a flavor to your meat. I put a cut up lemon in about a gallon and a half of warm water or about and inch from the top of the bowl. I seasoned the room temperature fish with a salt, pepper and garlic powder.
After the fish is on the grill, skin side down and covered. I put in a couple of handfuls of hickory chips on the coals through the access door on the the side. I think that apple wood would have been great for this but, hickory is what I had so...
I smoked the fish for about 2 hrs and added lumps of coal if the temperature dropped below "ideal". I took the fish off the grill when it felt firm enough, but if your not sure using that method then use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat to be sure.