The 24th South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series began with a blue marlin weighed-in on the first day of the first tournament. However, releasing blue marlin earns more points towards the Governor’s Cup Series, and Sadie Beth out of Charleston won the 45th Georgetown Landing tournament. Summer Girl took the second tourney at Bohicket Marina, but Sadie Beth retains the top overall spot after two of five Series events.
Both the Georgetown Landing tourney fished May 23-26, and the Bohicket Marina Invitational fished June 6-9, were shortened to two days of fishing by windy conditions. When the 35-boat Governor’s Cup fleet went fishing at Georgetown, the billfish bite was hot, and Wildlife boated a blue marlin to bring to the scales. This marked the first time in the Governor’s Cup Series since 2010 when a blue marlin was weighed-in.
The Governor’s Cup is headed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the tale of their tape measure back on the docks was that the blue marlin did not meet minimum length requirements, and was disqualified. The federal government sets a 99-inch minimum limit to harvest a blue marlin, but the Governor’s Cup rules stipulate that a blue marlin must be at least 105-inches. Wildlife’s blue marlin was 104-inches long and weighed 348-pounds, and it cost them 600-points in the Governor’s Cup Series points, which awards 600-points for the catch and release of a blue marlin.
Meanwhile, Sadie Beth, a 53-foot Paul Mann (hull #1) completed the unlikely feat of landing and releasing a quadruple-header of sailfish on day one at Georgetown. By the end of the day they released a fifth sailfish, giving them 1,000 points total (sailfish earn 200-points apiece). Then on day two, Capt. Howard Mosely put Sadie Beth back on the fish for owner Gage Blue, and they caught and released two white marlin, good for 300-points apiece. Sadie Beth earned a total of 1,600-points.
Finishing second at Georgetown was Benchmark, based out of Charleston, for their catch and release of two blue marlin and one white marlin, good for 1,500 points. The crew of Benchmark indicated that they had a few other shots at blue marlin but were unable to get hooked up. Third place went to Daymaker, based out of Georgetown, for their catch and release of one blue marlin and two white marlin. During two back-to-back days of fishing, the Georgetown fleet released 41 billfish including 15 blue marlin, 16 white marlin and 10 sailfish.
Two weeks later, a fleet of 27 boats gathered on Seabrook Island to fish out of Bohicket Marina. Miss Magnolia, a 50-foot Viking out of Hilton Head, had the hot hand on day one, releasing two blue marlin and one white marlin.
“This was the best fishing day we have ever experienced off of South Carolina,” said owner Capt. Tram Colket. “Crew member Tim Gredick handled the rod for both blue marlin bites.”
With no billfish releases on day two, Miss Magnolia lost her momentum and had to settle for second place.
Summer Girl, a 42-foot Post run by Capt. Stevie Leasure, had released two blue marlin on day one, and they followed that up with another blue marlin release on day two. Their 1,800-point total was good for first place at Bohicket, earning them a $15,500 payday. Since one of their blue marlin was released by female angler Kimberly Smith, Summer Girl was also awarded the Top Lady Angler award. Owner John Smith Jr. and first mate Mike Jackson reported another marlin in the baits on day two, but the finicky fish refused to bite any of their lures.
Finishing in third place at Bohicket was Cotton Picker out of Savannah for their release of one blue marlin and two white marlin. Thirty-two billfish were released at Bohicket over back-to-back fishing days, including 10 blue marlin, 14 white marlin and eight sailfish. Sadie Beth was able to release one blue marlin and one white marlin, boosting its Series points total to 2,500, keeping them in first place with three more events to fish. Summer Girl is currently in second place in overall Governor’s Cup points with 1,800.
One catch of note from the Bohicket tournament came when 13-year old angler Gray Eubank caught a 53.4-pound dolphin while fishing with his father and grandfather aboard Sportin’ Life. Eubank’s mahi was the heaviest, earning the Outstanding Dolphin award and the Top Youth Angler award.
The S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series promotes both conservation of billfish stocks and the involvement of youth in the tradition of offshore fishing.
Jeff Dennis is a Charleston native. Read his blog at lowcountryoutdoors.com.