If you walk a few minutes east from where I live in Thunderbolt, you can find a few different places on the Wilmington river to cast a line or drop a net. In my experience, the fishing might be tricky, but hauling up at least a few crab or shrimp is almost a guarantee. The rivers and creeks are full of the critters. Any time of the year, you can take those blue crab home and have a nice meal. Shrimp, however, are a different story. It is illegal to eat shrimp you catch in a net out of season. You can use them as bait, and effectively convert them into a legal protein source (probably going to be a stingray though), but you can't make a meal of them by themselves. Does anyone actually follow that rule? That's a question I can't answer, because I'm not a nark.
Thankfully though, due to an apparent preponderance of crustaceans in the unseasonably warm waters this year, commercial and recreational food shrimping opened early. If you are in Savannah and not eating fresh shrimp, caught locally, you are sinning against God and Country. Here at the Coastal Emperor we generally follow the principle of eat and drink locally. That rule is especially hard and fast when it comes to seafood. There are few things in this world more delicious than a juicy shrimp hauled fresh from the water that day, and I am here to make sure you know where to go.
Firstly, leave Savannah and head towards the beach. It only makes sense that the closer to the sea you get, the more likely it is that you'll find fresh seafood. Down on the bluff that comprises "downtown" Thunderbolt, you will find Thunderbolt Fisherman's Seafood. It's a rickety old assortment of buildings and docks that is like an artifact from bygone times. Do not be put off by its appearance (some of you might even find it charming.) Do not be put off by the smell (smells mean good things are happening.) I would suggest though that you call ahead or check their Facebook page (linked above) to make sure they've got the goods. I've walked by this place many times and seen it closed despite the posted hour. It's only been a week since the season started that they've been selling consistently. Typically they've got 26/30 size, headed, for eight dollars a pound. It all depends on what the trawlers bring in on a day to day basis (and I'm sure it depends on what is left over from their commercial side of the business.)
They have a storefront but I haven't seen it in use yet. The fellow who helped me out last time said they do still sell out of there...maybe later in the year. Now though, you just walk into the main packing area and they'll open their coolers to reveal what's available from that day's catch. The trawlers can go from sun up to sun down, but the shop is only open from 10am to 5pm, so I would ere on the side of early.
While you are there, talk to these guys. In my experience they've been full of jokes and enthusiasm for their product (and rightfully so.)
We took home five pounds the other day and they packed the beauties up for us in ice for the admittedly short trip home. I was delighted to find out that we had a bunch of bonus roe shrimp in the mix. I plan to have a whole parade of shrimp dishes coming out of my kitchen this summer, but to start we simply steamed a handful and ate them with a bed of greens. It was a simple meal, but unbeliavably satisfying.