Shortened tournament or not, the 45th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament got the 2012 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series off to a rousing start.
With the emergence of Tropical Storm Beryl in the Atlantic last weekend, the entire field of 36 boats opted to fish the first two days of the tournament, as boats originally had the option to fish two of three days May 24-26. With fishing compacted into two days, the billfish action was very good out of Georgetown Landing Marina, especially for blue marlin.
In all, 41 billfish were released in the tournament including 16 white marlin, 15 blue marlin and 10 sailfish.
“Thirteen blues were hooked but lost so [the boats] hooked up with a total of 28 blue marlin in two days of fishing and people saw several blues that wouldn’t bite,” said Governor’s Cup program coordinator Wallace Jenkins of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “There were a bunch of blue marlin out there. There was plenty of opportunity to catch a blue, more than usual.”
Charleston entry Sadie Beth, based out of Ripley Light Yacht Club, made a 75-mile run to fish south of Charleston both days and narrowly earned the win with 1,600 points for releasing two white marlin and five sailfish. Benchmark, out of Toler’s Cove in Charleston, was second with 1,500 points after releasing two blue marlin and a white marlin.
Georgetown entry, Daymaker, was third with 1,200 points after releasing one blue marlin and two white marlin.
Boats earn 600 points for a blue marlin release, 300 for a white marlin and 200 for a sailfish in the series.
“Very fortunate to win it – 100 points – that’s about as close as you can cut it,” said Gage Blue, owner of Sadie Beth.
On the first day of fishing, Sadie Beth released five sailfish with four coming all at once in a quad hookup. In a whirlwind, the Sadie Beth crew managed to get a release on all four fish. The second and final day of fishing – last Friday – produced an early and a late white marlin release for the crew.
“We released [the second white marlin] right at lines out time, it probably went over a couple minutes,” Blue said. “Most of our fish came off circle hooks and ballyhoo – one white hit a lure. Both days for us, it seemed to be an early bite and a late bite with not much in between. There were a lot of fish seen. What was caught [in the tournament] was not indicative of what was seen.”
Blue commended his crew for the win.
“Our biggest success came from the [bait] presentation we were able to give,” said Blue, who was the angler on a sailfish and the last white marlin. “Mate Emerson Reed, between his presentation and my captain [Howard Moseley] running over [the fish], those were the two things that really helped.”
While Sadie Beth made waves in the offshore waters, the biggest splash at the dock was made by the crew of Wildlife.
Wildlife hooked up with a sizable blue marlin on Friday at about noon and had it beside the boat in position to be measured in a little over an hour, said boat owner Ken Strickland of Charleston.
“At 1:10 p.m., we measured the fish in the water and it measured 105 1/2 inches,” Strickland said, “so we brought it in the boat.”
Jenkins noted once a billfish is boated, it legally must be brought in.
“It’s tough to measure one of those fish in the water,” Jenkins said. “Once a billfish is in the boat federal law says you have to land it. Once you bring one of those fish over the gunwale you have to land it.”
The Governor’s Cup minimum size for a blue marlin to be weighed in is 105 inches, six inches above the federal minimum size of 99 inches. The blue marlin was headed to the dock aboard Wildlife with $69,400 in prize money hanging in the balance in the Tournament Within a Tournament prize category for a Landed Blue Marlin.
At the dock, the fish measured just under 105 inches, about 104 1/2 inches. Instead of winning the prize money, Strickland and crew were penalized 600 points in the series per Governor’s Cup rules. The fish weighed 348 pounds.
“When we got him in the boat he was just a touch over 105 [inches] – he must have dried out,” said Strickland, who noted the fish was packed in ice in a fish bag as soon as possible after it was brought aboard. “It was a half-inch shorter than we measured it. It was disheartening for everybody on the boat. I wish I had a marlin stretcher. If it doesn’t measure, it doesn’t measure. They’ve got a rule system – that’s what it’s gotta be. It was a great tournament. Those guys up there [at Georgetown Landing Marina] do an awesome job.”
Total boat earnings including the Tournament Within a Tournament categories were Sadie Beth $29,950; Caramba $29,795; Christy II $14,000; Benchmark $13,740; Sportin’ Life $12,730; Big Kahuna $10,100 and Daymaker $8,560. Total cash prizes awarded in the tournament was $118,875. The $69,400 prize money for the Tournament Within a Tournament category for a Landed Blue Marlin was to be paid back to entrants in the category. Six-year-old Rance Jennings, fishing aboard Micabe, was the angler on a sailfish that was released and was awarded as the top Junior Angler in the tournament.
The next tournament in the series is the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, set for June 6-9.
Black Sea Bass minimum size
The minimum size limit for black sea bass in the South Atlantic Region will be increased from 12 inches to 13 inches on July 1 for recreational anglers. The 2012-13 recreational fishing season for black sea bass opens Friday, which means the minimum size of 12 inches will be in effect for the month of June before the increase to 13 inches goes into effect on July 1.
Catch Two Flounder Tournament
Magic Stik weighed in a whopping two-flounder aggregate of 12.44 pounds to win the Catch Two Flounder Tournament hosted by the Little River Saltwater Fishing Club out of Harbourgate Marina on Saturday. Lil Bro Bro was second with 7.50 pounds, Turnitup was third with 6.80 pounds, Fonvielle was fourth with 6.46 pounds and Toe Jam was fifth with 5.92 pounds.
Magic Stik also weighed in the largest flounder, a 7.36-pounder. McClure Thompson was the top Junior Angler with a 2.88-pound flounder and Ricky Kelly was the top Senior Angler with a 4.38-pounder.