Trolling action at the break in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream has – finally – been excellent over the past week, which bodes well for a flurry of tournaments on tap the next two weekends.
The headliner is the 46th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, set for next week at Georgetown Landing Marina. The Captains Meeting for the event will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. and the three days of fishing scheduled for Thursday through next Saturday (May 23-25).
Two other tournaments that have been plagued by rough weather conditions will finally be held this weekend – the 5th annual Georgetown Meatfish Slam, also out of Georgetown Landing Marina, and the Crazy Sister Offshore Challenge, staged out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet.
The Georgetown tournament is being held Friday and Saturday, with weigh-in scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. Call 546-1776 for more information.
The Crazy Sister Offshore Challenge, after being postponed for three straight weekends, is set for Saturday and Sunday. Call 995-7446 for more information.
Also, the Far Out Shootout is underway out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. Boats can fish one of the eight days during the tournament which concludes Saturday. For more information call (910) 575-3474.
When it comes to billfish tournaments along the South Carolina coast, the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament is the Granddaddy of them all.
The tournament is not only the oldest billfish tournament in the state, it is also considered South Carolina’s longest running saltwater fishing tournament.
This also marks the second year the tournament – established by the late Wallace F. Pate in 1968 – will kick off the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
“I think it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future,” said Georgetown Landing Marina General Manager John Horton. “I think it’s a good thing [to host the Governor’s Cup opener]. Everybody’s psyched up, geared up for that first tournament.”
After a slow start to the spring, the offshore fishing has caught fire in the last two weeks. Catches of the meatfish species of dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna have been very good, plus there have been a number of early encounters with the tournament’s namesake – blue marlin.
“Everything’s happening - billfish, meatfish – all of them are happening at the same time,” said Horton. “Blue Sky released a blue marlin last Friday and we had two other reports of blues hooked up. These guys were meat fishing too, not blue marlin fishing, and they were getting [blue marlin] bites. That’s a good sign.”
Memorial Reef Project
Pate, the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament founder, was again honored posthumously by the Advisory Board of Directors for the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series recently.
The board voted unanimously to donate $50,000 towards the deployment and construction of the S.C. Memorial/Charleston Deep Reef Project in memory of Pate.
Over its 25-year history, the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series has donated over $300,000 to various conservation and research projects in Pate’s memory.
The proposed reef will be the first of its kind on the Atlantic Coast, and will be placed in 350 feet of water about 52 miles southeast of Charleston in an area that was permitted in 2005 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In 2007, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council designated the site as a Type II Marine Protected Area, where bottom fishing is prohibited but trolling is allowed.
Earlier this spring, the Memorial Reef Group was able to negotiate an agreement with Stevens Towing to acquire and eventually deploy a pair barges that measure 270 by 70 feet, a large crane and other high relief materials which will provide the necessary vertical structure to attract fish.
Once placed on the site, the structure will accomplish the objective of providing essential fish habitat in an area that will be protected from bottom fishing but will be open to trolling for billfish, dolphin, wahoo, tuna and other pelagic species.
The strategic location of the proposed reef, near the 380 and 226 fishing holes, will guarantee that it will be utilized extensively by those fishing the South Carolina coast.
“This donation is the largest single contribution that the Series has made to date, and is exactly the type of project Governor Carroll Campbell envisioned supporting when he established the Series back in 1988,” said Advisory Board Chairman Ed Holder of Greenville.
Funds for the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series are raised through private donations and sponsorships, which are held in trust by the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund.
The donation gets the project closer to its fundraising goal, but is still in need of community support for final assembly and deployment. Those interested in donating to the project, which has a proposed deployment of August 2013, can visit scmemorialreef.com/latest-news for more information.