Tony welcome aboard
Sound like eiter water in the gas tank or crud in the gas tank. That trip to Catalina may have stird up gunk off the bottom of the tank. Then running with the tank that low will be sucking up the crud.
You did not say what engine you have but I am assuming it's a 5.7 which for this year would have an electric fuel pump. Being a carb engine check to ensure he choke is opening in a few minutes of starting otherwise that will keep theengine from idleing.
1997 2400 SCR
5.7 Vortec / Bravo 2