CHARLESTON -- It's time to start cooking those grits, with shrimp baiting season open again in South Carolina. Wildlife officials said an average number of shrimp are expected during the season runs through Nov. 9. "They are smaller than normal, but it's certainly better than it could have been," Larry DeLancey told The Post and Courier. He said the spring commercial shrimp season was slow because cold weather killed some of the shrimp last winter. This year, only about 5,000 shrimp baiting licenses have been sold in South Carolina - down from 6,000 last season and almost 17,500 back in 1998. Shrimp baiters attract shrimp by using a bait, generally fish meal mixed with clay and rolled into small balls. You have to have a license from the state to legally cast a net over baited areas. For South Carolina residents, licenses are only $25. But for those from outside the state, the licenses cost $500. Generally, it's just cheaper to buy shrimp than invest approximately $100 in poles, nets, the license and gas for a boat. But it's the adventure that attracts many baiters. "It's the sport, the fun, the camaraderie. Going out there with your buddies at 8 or 9 at night," said Jeremy Burnham. "You eat what you catch, just like you eat what you kill hunting. That's what keeps you going out there. Anybody can go buy shrimp." Shrimp and grits is a traditional breakfast in coastal South Carolina. Bill Brickell said shrimp are already out in creeks along the South Carolina coast, and they are big ones. "I made 70 (meal) balls last night, and I had shrimp walking up my 100 foot dock to get in my basement," he said, adding the shrimp are so big "I've got to break them over my knee to get the heads off." The shrimp catch for both shrimp baiters and commercial shrimpers has been off during the past few years. Craig Reeves, the president of the South Carolina Shrimpers Association said shrimpers are seeing more black gill disease. That's a parasite that turns shrimp black and makes them weak so they are easy prey for other marine life.