Officials with the Department of Marine Resources estimate 1,017 boats were in the water Thursday morning for the start of the 2002 shrimp season. That's an increase of more than 200 from last year. The hope is the dry season means, not only more shrimp, but bigger shrimp.
That's why Ray Blanton and some of his relatives were on the water bright and early. Blanton gave up shrimping 20 years ago, but after so many years away, he was mighty glad to be back out there in his family's boat.
"Our first drag, before we had the problem, we had three bushels full, which is about 300 pounds," said Blanton.
That problem was a blown pipe on their exhaust system, so it was back to harbor for the Blantons. It was lonely there. Everybody else was out catching more shrimp.
But, Blanton knew some people hungry for shrimp would probably show up. He was right. The early birds know if they come to the docks, they might get some bargains.
Blanton, and others, say early signs are good for this year. And that's just what shrimpers, and shrimp lovers, want to hear.
By Jeff Lawson