Small hot fire, exhaust wide open, pre-heat splits on firebox. Fire management was the hardest thing for me to learn in BBQ. One more thing, don't fight your pit. Every pit has a sweet spot where a clean fire, with thin blue smoke, equals a specific temp. For mine it's 300. If I try to cook at 225 on my stickburner I'll have dirty smoke and fluctuating temps. If I cook at 300 it stays much more consistent and produces almost invisible smoke. Know Thy Pit.
Meadowcreek SQ36 with 2nd grate, 1991 Weber Performer w/ SS table, UDS, gasser.-Glenn-