7:30 a.m.: It’s springtime. Capt. Jamie Hough, owner of Redfish Mafia Charters and a renowned chef, makes the mile-and-a-half run toward Fort Sumter, near the mouth of Charleston Harbor. The tide is mid- to high incoming.
8 a.m.: With an 8-foot net, he captures a well full of 2- to 3-inch menhaden and heads to his favorite rock piles in shallow water.
8:15 a.m.: He free-lines a live bait toward the rocks using 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. A spotted seatrout smacks the bait at the surface.
8:25 a.m.: He unhooks the fish. It grunts, signaling that it’s a male. The legal trout comes home for supper. Females, or nongrunters, head back to spawn.
11 a.m.: While South Carolina permits 10 trout per person per day, Hough limits the total take to five fish in the spring during the spawn. He heads back to the dock with his Bubba fillet knife.
11:30 a.m.: Once filleted, the trout soaks in a bowl of ice water rather than egg wash. Hough preps a pan with half cornmeal, half flour. He fires up a cast-iron skillet on a gas stove and heats about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees.
11:45 a.m.: He coats the trout and places them in the pan so they don’t overlap. He will eyeball them until they turn brown, flip them, and cook till done. He places 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of heavy cream in a pot and brings to a boil. He whisks in a cup of stone-ground yellow grits into a pot, cuts the heat down to simmer, and covers the pot. Once the grits are done, he adds 8 ounces of goat cheese.
12 p.m.: He starts the gravy by placing half a chopped red bell pepper, half a chopped green bell pepper, half a chopped yellow onion, and one jalapeno finely diced into a stainless-steel or cast-iron pan. He adds a stick of butter and cooks the mixture down on medium-high heat until he sees some browning. He adds 3/4 cup of heavy cream, salt and pepper, and cooks till thick.
12:15 p.m.: He plates the grits, the gravy and then the fish, and tops with chives.