The number of billfish releases took a nosedive during the Carolina Billfish Classic, the third of five legs in the 2013 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, which concluded on Saturday.
The tournament was based out of Toler’s Cove Marina in Mt. Pleasant with Georgetown Landing Marina serving as a satellite weigh-in station.
Chasin, out of Ripley Light Marina in Charleston, claimed the win by releasing one blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish to accumulate 1,100 points.
The second-place boat, Legacy, tallied 1,000 points with the release of a blue marlin and two sailfish. Sportin’ Life, out of Toler’s Cove, was third with a blue marlin and a white marlin release for 900 points.
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The 32-boat field released a total of 25 billfish, including 16 sailfish, six blue marlin and three white marlin, a considerable drop-off from the first two tournaments in the series.
In the series opener at Georgetown Landing in late May, 33 boats released 38 billfish, including 21 blue marlin, 10 sailfish and seven white marlin, along with two landed blue marlin. Two weeks later, in the second event at Bohicket Marina, the 18 participating boats released 27 billfish, including 14 sailfish, 12 blue marlin and one white marlin.
“It was very much slower,” Wallace Jenkins, Governor’s Cup Program Coordinator, said. “The weather on Saturday was really nice, and the majority of the boats fished Saturday. Usually by this time we would have seen more billfish caught, especially sailfish. Hopefully by the MEGADOCK (July 10-13 at Charleston City Marina) the sailfish will be here.”
David Black, dockmaster at Georgetown Landing Marina, noted billfish action was slow for the five boats that fished out of the marina.
“We’re at that intermittent point where it slows down a little bit and starts to pick back up for sails in particular,” said Black. “Blue marlin have slowed down but they usually do this time of year.”
One of the five boats fishing out of Georgetown Landing, Mirage, from Murrells Inlet, weighed in the largest wahoo, with Moe Monckton serving as the angler on the 55.5-pounder.
Wildlife weighed in the largest dolphin, a 40.4-pounder caught by owner Ken Strickland while Frayed Knot produced the largest tuna, a 16.4-pound blackfin with Dustin Corbin serving as angler.
Reel Patience won the Bluewater Conservation Award after tagging and releasing five dolphin. The top youth angler was 9-year-old Harry Hood, who caught a 32.2-pound dolphin aboard Compromise. Arica Simmons was the top Female Angler, releasing a sailfish aboard her namesake, Arica.
Licenses for the 2013-14 hunting and fishing season are on sale, with current licenses set to expire on Sunday (June 30).
Licenses are available in person at any of the four regional S.C. Department of Natural Resources offices or by visiting one of the 500 license vendors across the state. Licenses are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-866-714-3611 or by visiting the www.dnr.sc.gov.
Residents and nonresidents age 16 and older must purchase the required licenses to hunt and fish in the Palmetto State. Persons born after June 30, 1979, must have successfully completed a hunter education course to obtain a hunting license.
Catch Two Flounder Tournament
This tournament, staged by the Little River Inlet Saltwater Fishing Club, will be held Saturday out of Harbourgate Marina in Little River.
The winner will be determined by the aggregate weight of two flounder. Entry fee is $60 per boat with registration set for Friday, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the marina. The captains meeting is at 6:30 p.m.
Sandy Island Birding Expedition
The event is set for July 6, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, and will depart from the Waccamaw NWF Visitors Center at 21424 North Frasier St., in Georgetown.
The fee is $35 for adults, $20 for ages 12 and under. Call 843-884-7684 for more information.