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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Report, 3/7/18, Capt. William Toney

by on Mar.07, 2018, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa

A very cool fish that is become a standard and talk around the dock is our Nature Coast snook. A colder than normal January took a toll on the snook population but from the reports of local anglers and guides snook fishing is good. When I was growing up snook were a fish of legends, apparitions up at the Blue Waters. At MacRae’s in Homosassa, Mr Duncan would sell wild shiners for bass anglers but I remember most of them were used for catching snook up the river. So that being said, snook have always been around but I have to say there are more of them now then ever. We can blame it on warmer winters but I believe its our warm fresh water springs that protect them from cold winters, salt water intrusion and conservation. I believe keeping one for diner every now and again is not a big deal if your lucky enough to catch one in the slot. Being lucky enough to experience one rip 40 yards of line off the reel, jump like a tarpon and show it’s bucket mouth while it cuts your leader is better then eating one.
At this time most snook have come from sandy holes on the outside keys, rocky/oyster points near deep drops along channels and the edges of a hole in the back country. Live shrimp, pinfish or D.O.A. glow 5.5 jerk baits will get the bite. The trout bite has moved out to deeper water near the Foul Area and a few Spanish mackerel are mixed in. Incoming high tide will be early morning and very late evening this weekend.


Capt. William Toney

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Capt. Ray Markham’s Florida Sportsman Fishing4Cast- West Central- December 22-24, 2017

by on Dec.22, 2017, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

A string of beautiful weather days should allow holiday anglers to get on the water if desired. However, with the first day of winter arriving on this Thursday, the 21st, don’t expect to see anything that feels like winter. Go with what you know according to the water temperature.


As we approach the gag grouper closure at the end of the month, anglers are finding these fish in as shallow as 10-feet of water from inside Tampa Bay all along the beaches. A good rule of thumb is to find some hard bottom or structure where you may find stone crab traps. You may do double duty here as tripletails are also being taken on the crab trap floats and lines that mark the traps. Live pinfish with a trimmed tail to slow the baitfish down have been top baits for gags. DOA Shrimp or the live version rigged on a light jig head or under a popping cork with a 2-foot leader will take these tasty fish. While gags are found shallow this time of year, you’ll also find them well out into the Gulf.

Kingfish have slowed with the water temperature drop in the Gulf. The temperature has dropped into the lower 60’s but with this warm weather, it could bring surface temps back up to bring in some Spanish or king mackerel again. Bait schools scattered on the last cold front, but could re-group again by the weekend.

Although the bite has slowed, anglers continue to find some hogfish despite the temperature drop. Anglers say downsizing tackle is the secret. Using small-to-medium size live shrimp on 15-pound class tackle with a long fluorocarbon leader will get it done, but patience is the key. Hogs are somewhat shy and wait to chew as all the other reef fish feed. Be prepared to lose a lot of bait, as everything eats a live shrimp.


The recent warming trend has snook stalled that were moving into the backcountry. Look for them on points and over dark bottom adjacent to channels. Water temperatures back on the rise approaching the 70’s will make topwater lures effective again, but jigs will out-pace them. The 3-inch CAL Shad has been my top producer for catch and release snookin’.

Redfish have been tough lately, but doable. Smaller jerk baits have been deadly. The MirrOlure Lil’ John rigged on a light jig head has been a top producer of reds laid up on shallow backwater flats and in potholes on sandy bottoms. Where I’m still finding pinfish, both the Eppinger Rex Spoon and MirrOlure MirrOdine 37MR49 have been hit. The new MirrOdine is the largest model they make, and I’m replacing the hooks with slightly smaller and lighter hooks to make the lure buoyant so I can work it in 6-inches of water. If pinfish or sardines are present, USE THIS LURE! You won’t be sorry.

Trout fishing has taken a big swing upward. Look for these fish in potholes on the low tides. Coming off this past Monday’s new moon have produced some exceptionally low tides, pushing these fish into the holes and channels.

Flounder are making an appearance again around passes and on sand bottom where it meets shell, grass, rock, or a change in depth. Jigs worked slowly on the bottom are hard to beat.

Pompano have disappeared, but a brief showing near Bunces Pass might reveal that more fish remain in the area. Doc’s Goofy Jigs have been a go-to bait here in yellow with a pink teaser.


Bass fishing has been taking off. Anglers fishing spinnerbaits at Lakes Tarpon and Seminole report good action with white or white and chartreuse colors. Crappie fishing should improve as the weather cools again. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!


The new FWC Fish/Hunt FL app for your phone is an amazing resource. Download it and you’ll have all the up to date information on rules, regulations, and some very good information on how, when, and where to hunt and fish.


Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655



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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Report, 12/13/17 from Capt. William Toney

by on Dec.13, 2017, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

With the latest cold front fishing is what should be expected after the Nature Coast first frost of the year. The near shore flats are holding a few red fish on the incoming high tide. Searching rocky points can help a angler locate some red fish. There are a few mullet but most of them are milling around the shoreline and not jumping, a occasional little flip will be help locate the best shoreline to hunt for red fish. I use live shrimp to sight cast for them.
River fishing has had the best action. Rocky shoreline near the channel are the best places to fish. Live shrimp on the bottom will catch red fish, mangrove snapper, and black drum. For good snook action use a MirrOlure  MirrOdine near docks or blown down trees on the outgoing tide. Incoming tide will be in the morning this weekend.

Capt. William Toney


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Florida Sportsman Online West Central Fishing4Cast, 12/8/17, from Capt. Ray Markham

by on Dec.08, 2017, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Finally, the weekend ahead will see some cooler temperatures. These temperatures will be quite a bit cooler than the near record highs we’ve been seeing recently. Look for falling water temperature to slow down metabolisms of fish, making the necessity of slowing your presentations with artificial lures and smaller baits, both natural and artificial, more important.


The clock is ticking down on the closure of gag grouper at the end of the month. Now’s the time to get out and take advantage of the nearshore action with some big rod benders. Anglers are reporting taking the minimum 24-inch and larger gags in as shallow as 15-feet of water. Gags can be caught in lower Tampa Bay exiting the bay in the Egmont Key Ship’s Channel on the sloping rocky channel. Trolling has been a deadly effective method for these fish. An assortment of big jigs with soft plastic curly tails and plugs like some of those from MirrOlure, Rapala, Mann’s are the norm. Lures that have small lips are best trolled behind planers or on downriggers. Controlled depth fishing with downriggers is the most effective method. Vance Tice of St. Petersburg has these methods down to a science. While he ventures out into the Gulf for some big gags, his forte is Tampa Bay trolling. For information on these trolling techniques, Tice may be reached at (813) 787-8712.

Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass in Madeira Beach reported his Extreme 12-hour trips landing gag grouper approaching 40-pounds! These monster gags have been caught on the 39-hour trips, but with gags moving shallower, the 12-hour Extreme trip has been exceptionally productive for bottom fishers. The gag action has been so hot, that Hubbard’s has added two more 39-hour trips, on December 15 and December 19. Hubbard commented, “The gag bite has been off the charts to say the least the Dec 1st 39 hour had nearly 60 fat keeper gags along with scamp, red grouper, mangroves, yellow tail and more! Tuna are being caught on the trollers and flat lines too.” If you want to get in on the action, book your trip now with Hubbard’s at www.hubbardsmarina.com.

Nearshore action with tripletail has been very good. Most any kind of floating object, piling, channel marker, or stone crab trap float can hold these fish. Approach the structure quietly with a light to medium power rod with a live shrimp, jig, or artificial shrimp, like those from DOA Lures, rigged on a popping cork and about two feet of leader and cast to it. If there is a fish there, and you don’t see it, it will generally rise to the occasion.


Water temperatures that have been in the low 70’s for several weeks will see a dip in the mercury this weekend as a cold front moves south through the Suncoast. Adjust your retrieve, slowing it down. Work the lower third of the water column for the majority of the species you target. Snook season closed last week, but catch and release action will continue as these fish move into the backcountry, into residential canals, and up rivers and creeks. Look for slow moving baits like the DOA Shrimp to get some top action from these fish.

Coming off last Sunday’s big moon, tides have been lower than the norm, but with northerly winds expected for part of the weekend, you will continue to see some low water and can also expect fish to move into the potholes that this low water creates. Trout fishing will be like shooting fish in the barrel. Jigs, like the CAL Shad and MirrOlure Marsh Minnow will take flounder, trout, redfish, snook, bluefish, and many others. Just work them slowly. Curly tail jigs provide more action than most any other with just a little bit of current. Light jig heads that fall slowly will trigger strikes from lethargic fish.

Good numbers of bluefish have been chomping at trout in lower Tampa Bay. These vicious fish can chomp a keeper trout right up to the gills in one bite. Be prepared to lose some jigs when you get on the water and bring plenty of replacement tails.

Redfish action seems to have slowed lately. With lower than average low tides, look in channels where a flat dumps water off areas with oyster bars to find a few reds.

Sheepshead continue to show themselves in greater numbers as they prepare for the late winter spawn in February and March. Most area seawalls, docks and anywhere where barnacles grow and crabs gather will hold sheepshead. Rock piles along the coast and in Tampa Bay, and the Gandy and Howard Franklin Bridges are known big sheepshead attractors. Live fiddler crabs, oysters, blanched sand fleas, clams, and most any mollusks make good bait for these fish.


Capt. Angie Douthit, guiding on Lake Okeechobee, reports the water level is still higher than normal, but some great action from spawning bass and crappie has been taking place. A variety of lures is working for both, but bass have been hitting slow rolled spinnerbaits and topwater lures worked very slowly. Some of Capt. Douthit’s anglers have been catching some monster tropy bass.

Crappies are hitting minnows slow trolled around edges of grass beds. The action will increase as cold fronts move south. To book your exciting and productive day of fishing for bass and crappie call 863-228- 7263. Be sure to check out Capt. Douthit’s website for all the latest client photos, fishing reports, accommodations, what to bring, etc. at www.southfloridabassfishing.com. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655



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Florida West Central Fishing 4Cast, Floridasportsman.com, 11/9/17 by Capt. Ray Markham

by on Nov.11, 2017, under Bradenton and Sarasota, St. Pete Beaches, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs

Coming off last weekend’s full moon, anglers posted a variety of reports ranging from brisk action on Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and gag grouper to trout, pompano, and snook. The action this weekend may be a little threatened by an incoming cold front that may kick up seas and blow beginning Friday. Pay close attention to the weather and make sure all your safety gear is in order if you decide to head out.

Tom Tait with a nice pompano, caught on a CAL Jig with a grub tail while fishing with Capt. Ray Markham aboard the Flat Back II.


Gag grouper are where you find them right now. Water temperatures in the Gulf are beginning to cool and gags are slowly moving toward shore. Long runs to 125-foot depths are still producing some big gags for anglers, but just inside Tampa Bay, the Ship’s Channel is producing some nice fish for both trolling and bait-soaking anglers. To the north, Hernando anglers are finding gag grouper on shallow rock bottoms in depths ranging from 8 to 15-feet of water. These shallows allow for some topwater lure action. Larger crank baits like the Bomber Long A and or the slow sinking MirrOlure 77M twitchbait are excellent at this depth range. For anglers trolling depths from 25-to 40-feet, the Mann’s Stretch series in the model made for the depth fished are very good as is the MirrOlure 111MR 25+ and 113MR lures in orange with gold sides can troll up some nice gag and red grouper.

Mike Mahoney, of T. A. Mahoney Co., Inc. in Tampa trolled up some nice gag grouper in 35-to 45-feet of water in the bay this week. Mahoney was trolling inside the bay using a #3 planer with bright colored lures his green and pink plugs caught the largest gags they pulled out of the bay. Mahoney and some of the area’s top guides will be speaking at next weekend’s Reel Animals Fishing Show at the Florida State Fairground’s Expo Hall. On hand will be one of the nation’s top outdoor writers and former outdoors editor for the Tampa Tribune, Frank Sargeant.

Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina reported some ‘extreme’ action aboard this week’s 12-hour extreme trip. Anglers boated a 40-pound gag grouper and broke off a handful more that would have made the 40-pounder look small. They also broke off a huge wahoo that was estimated at 90-pounds. On their 44-hour trip, anglers whacked the snapper on the full moon. Mangrove, yellowtail, and lane snapper bit all night. Cobia and tripletail action was non-stop, according to Hubbard. This time of year is right for fishing and there’s no better time to book a trip. Go to http://HubbardsMarina.com for more information.

Anglers fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key reported steady action along the beaches with fly anglers catching little tunny, i.e. false albacore or bonito, Spanish mackerel, and tripletail.


The flats from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs have seen some better trout over the past few weeks. Many anglers are reporting upper teen sized trout being caught on live shrimp under popping corks and on DOA Deadly Combos. Snook fishing seems to have slowed a bit in the area, but anglers continue to catch redfish in the Palm Harbor area around oyster bars on the flood tides using whitebait and gold spoons.

Look for the weekend’s slower tides to slow the action somewhat, but you can use the wind to your advantage by setting up between pinch points where wind blows through an area, producing an ambush area for predators.


Anglers reported some good bass fishing action on the lake at Walsingham Reservoir in Pinellas County. Using the new DOA PT-7 bass to 5-pounds were landed here. The large worm hook on the lure allows the lure to be cast into and around structure where these large bass are hiding. Give one a try. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655



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A Chili Change-Up….Try Seafood Chili

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Recipes and Food


Out there in “food land” there’s an ongoing debate: “Should chili have beans?” With or without, I think there are arguments for either recipe. Chili on a cold winter day should have beans. Chili on hot dogs should not. But how about meat? Having vegetarians at your table is a good reason to consider meatless, so why not a compromise—with shellfish? And beans.


While cooking everyday chili can be easy (from a can or from the Publix deli), really good homemade chili takes some time and energy. That’s especially true if you are using it as the basis for a delicious seafood meal. Seafood, wild-caught or store-bought isn’t cheap so why not pair it with your best culinary effort?


This 4-step recipe involves making your own chili stock from several varieties of dried peppers, adding some spices and vegetables and then finishing with a medley of fresh shrimp, scallops and mussels.



Chili Stock


4 cups vegetable stock

3 dried chipotle chilies

5 dried New Mexico (Hatch) chilies

3 dried ancho chiles

1 clove garlic, whole2

2 cups water


Carefully, with rubber gloves, remove the stems and seeds from the chilies. Add, with the garlic, to the water and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; let cool about a half-hour. Then blend to a smooth consistency.


Spice Blend


1/2 tbs. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. mustard powder

pinch ground clove

pinch ground cinnamon


Mix the spices thoroughly.



1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 15-ounce can, red beans (drained)

1 onion

1 bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 cups corn kernels

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Dice the onion , bell pepper and mince the garlic. In a large pot, with the olive oil, cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic until transparent. Add the spices and tomato paste, stir and cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Dump in the chili stock and the can of tomatoes, with their juice. Then add the corn and beans and bring to a low simmer.




2 pounds mussels

1 pound medium-to-large shrimp

1 pound bay scallops

1 cup white wine


Peel and devein the shrimp and remove any beards from the mussels. Put the mussels in a pan with the wine, cover and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and scallops to the simmering chili and when the mussels are open, add them, with the wine. Cook about 4 more minutes or until the shrimp and scallops are done.


Add salt to taste and serve with chips or a corn muffin.


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Heads Are Optional—A Great Recipe For Whole Grilled Fish

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Recipes and Food


If black sea bass grew to six feet long, I’d quit swimming in Gulf or Atlantic waters. These guys are fierce. Luckily, we rarely see them over a foot long in the Gulf and a four-plus pound Atlantic version is considered a “trophy”. Bag limits vary, too. You can keep 100 pounds of 10-plus inchers in the Gulf, but only 5 13-inch plus fish on the eastern side of the state.

All too often, black sea bass are considered by-catch by anglers targeting larger reef fish. They seem to inhabit the same reefs as grouper and grunts, and are often found inshore over live bottom in the 6 to 10-foot depth. And slot-sized specimens are worth keeping for dinner. They’ll attack almost any bait you offer, especially soft plastics or jigs tipped with shrimp or squid. They can be pesky, and all too often are overlooked. However, I don’t think there’s a better tasting fish available. Yes, the soft white fillets are small, and it takes a bunch from the Gulf to make a great fried fish dinner, but frying isn’t your only option. My advice: fire up the grill, gas or charcoal, and cook them whole.

Or almost whole.


Grilling whole fish can be tricky, and members of the grouper family, like black sea bass, have “big shoulders”. That means one end of the fish cooks more quickly than at the other. Allow at least one fish per serving, and after scaling and gutting your catch, take a pair of kitchen shears to the pectoral fins. Trim them off, but leave the tails and dorsal fins intact. Cover them with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning off while cooking. I like to leave the heads, for drama—and for some of the best-eating meat. Score both sides of your fish with a sharp knife and put a sprig or two of your favorite herb in the body cavities. Dill or rosemary work well. Generously salt the fish with sea salt and brush with extra virgin olive oil just before you put them on the grill.

Eating these small fish, in fillet form or whole, is not an exercise in big forkfuls of meat. If served whole, there’s some picking involved and to some of your guests, getting used to their dinner looking them squarely in the eye can be off-putting.

Just remember–heads are optional.


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Grouper All’Amatriciana—A Simple and Special Recipe

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Recipes and Food


Summer’s over. And what a summer it’s been—at least in terms of tomatoes. Produce counters overflowed with rich-tasting Burpee’s Big Boys as well as plump Romas. As a result, prices were so reasonable that sliced tomatoes were an everyday option on many Floridians’ supper tables. Just a simple splash of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper were all that was needed for this southern favorite. But there is an option to fresh tomatoes, and that’s especially true in Italian cooking, even at the height of the summertime “bumper crop”.


That option, canned tomatoes, span a range from watery and bland to rich and luscious. The best ones come from Italy’s Samo Valley, and they are distinctly (and legally) labeled “San Marzano”.   Open a can, take a whiff and you’ll know why they’re favored, year-round, over fresh tomatoes in many cooked Italian recipes.


Sugo all’amatriciana is a staple of Italian cooking. A combination of tomatoes, basil, garlic and cured pork, it’s an easy dish to prepare and can be served over pasta or, in the case of this recipe, as a sauce for your favorite firm white fish.


Grouper All’Amatriciana


1- 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, whole and peeled

4-ounces cured pork (pancetta), finely chopped

4-cloves garlic, chopped

1/2-teaspoon crushed red pepper

4-tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil

4-6oz. portions grouper (or other firm-fleshed fish)

peanut oil

Zatarain’s “Wonderful” seafood breading mix


While you’re crisping the chopped pork in the olive oil in a saucepan, drain the tomatoes in a wire-mesh strainer while crushing them with a fork. When the bacon’s cooked, add the tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and stir. Cook about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care not to dry out the sauce. If it gets too dry, a shot of good red wine will help thin it out. Finally, add the fresh basil to the sauce.

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Easy Peasy Seafood Pizza

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Recipes and Food



Over the past 50 years, pizzas have, in my opinion, moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. A simple “tomato pie” topped with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni is now hard to find, and pizzas topped like cheeseburgers or peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches have made their way to “pizzeria” menu boards.   Don’t get me wrong, I like fancy pizzas as much as the next guy, but…


So how about a fancy pizza that’s easy to prepare and one that will excite your family and friends when they come to your dinner table?


Pesto Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Seafood


First, make some pizza dough in your food processor, let it rise twice. Next, crush basil, garlic and pine nuts and olive oil with your mortar and pestle. Then, dry some San Marzano tomatoes in your food dehydrator and soak them in extra virgin olive oil for a day or so. Finally, when it’s time to cook, form the dough into a 12 to 16-inch round.


Just kidding!!! Here’s my simple method with easy ingredients:


Buy a pre-made pizza crust (I like the 2-for-$2.99 crusts at Trader Joe’s.) or some pizza dough at the Publix bakery (In either case, buy several–I keep pre-made crusts in the freezer for last-minute meals).


Pre-heat your oven to 450-degrees. Form the dough, if necessary, and put it on a lightly oiled pan. Top with a layer of store-bought pesto, followed by chunks of mozzarella cheese and some well-drained store-bought sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil).   Sprinkle with some sea salt, a few crushed red pepper flakes and some dry oregano.   Cook until cheese melts and the crust starts to brown, 10-15 minutes.


At this point, the choice of seafood is yours. I like 40-50 count shrimp, peeled and deveined. You might consider bay scallops, sliced sea scallops, clams, squid rings or even thin slices of pre-grilled octopus. The final cooking time is up to you and depends on how long it takes to cook your seafood. 10-minutes should be sufficient, and you may want to finish the cooking under the broiler, to add color.


Give the pizza a few minutes to cool after it comes out of the oven and then top with some shaved Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley. Then, hide the empty jars and packages—and take credit for all the “work” you’ve done!


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Yet ANOTHER Shrimp and Grits Recipe!

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Recipes and Food


If you want to start an argument about southern seafood, just mention “shrimp and grits”. Yes, while there are differing points of view on hushpuppies (sweet or savory; with or without onions; with guava jelly or not) and coatings for fried fish (flour or corn meal), none seem to be more argued about than the “proper” way of preparing and presenting shrimp and grits.

I’m set in my ways, and until recently and I’ve prepared my shrimp and grits per the recipe in my 2013 Sportsman’s Kitchen column, but without the cheese. Personally, I’ve always thought the concept of cheese grits was brought south by carpetbaggers who didn’t appreciate grits, white or yellow, in their natural state. But that’s neither here nor there. The bottom line is that I’m always willing to expand my horizons and try a different version of a recipe.

Here’s a new and more aromatic twist on an old standard. The addition of small tomatoes and a cubanelle pepper make it an attractive and tasty offering at your next seafood dinner.

And yes, I like it with the cheese!


Shrimp and Grits 2.0



1-1/2 pounds, medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (Peel them yourself and reserve the shells)

1- bay leaf

1-tsp. dry tarragon

1-clove garlic, crushed

1-cup white grits

8-oz. grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Hot sauce (Tabasco or Cholula)

1/2-stick unsalted butter

1-medium cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped

1-large shallot, minced

1/4-pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2-scallions, thinly sliced

2-strips crisp bacon, chopped


First, make a shrimp stock by bringing the reserved shrimp shells, the garlic, bay leaf, tarragon and two cups of water to a boil, then reducing heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the solids and boil the remaining liquid, reducing it to about a half-cup. Set aside.

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the grits slowly, stirring until well mixed. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. When done, add the cheese and mix thoroughly. Add salt, ground black pepper and hot sauce, to taste.

While the grits are cooking, sauté the shrimp in the butter, taking care not to overcook. Set aside.

Over medium heat, cook the shallot, scallions and cubanelle pepper in the shrimp stock until soft.

To serve, spoon the grits into individual bowls and top with the shrimp and the vegetable mix. Garnish with the chopped bacon.

(Serves 4)

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