Outdoors column: 47th Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament kicks off

The 47th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament got underway on Thursday, but the majority of the action will take place on Friday and Saturday out of Georgetown Landing Marina.

The tournament, which is the oldest billfish tournament in South Carolina and was founded by the late Wallace Pate in 1968 with blue marlin as the target species, marks the opener of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series for the second straight year.

This year’s field consists of 29 boats, which are allowed to fish two of three days, captain’s choice, Thursday through Saturday.

With a dicey offshore marine forecast on Thursday, only one boat, Rascal, a local entry fishing from its home port of Georgetown Landing Marina, opted to fish on Thursday. The rest of the field will fish Friday and Saturday when the marine forecast looked more favorable.

Early in South Carolina’s billfish season, blue marlin are more prevalent than later in the summer when sailfish show up in good numbers and become the focus during tournaments held later in the five-tournament series.

“`It’s a historical tournament for South Carolina and one of the bigger happenings in Georgetown during the year,” said John Horton, general manager of Georgetown Landing Marina. “This is the only blue marlin tournament, we emphasize blues, you pretty much have to catch blues to win this tournament. There’s more lure fishing and bigger tackle in (the Georgetown tournament) as opposed to lighter tackle and natural baits (mainly ballyhoo) with circle hooks (in the later tournaments).

“If you want to get those points in this tournament you better be targeting blue marlin.”

Points awarded for successfully releasing a billfish are 600 for a blue marlin, 300 for a white marlin and 200 for a sailfish.

Only blue marlin can be weighed in during a Governor’s Cup event, and the series has special regulations in place for blue marlin.

A blue marlin must measure 105 inches in a curved line along the body from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw to be weighed in, which is 6 inches above the federal minimum size limit of 99 inches.

Last year, two blue marlin were weighed in on the second day of fishing at Georgetown, a real rarity for the series. The last time two blue marlin were weighed in during the entire series was 2005, much less two on the same day in the same tournament.

Last year’s Georgetown field of 33 boats also released 21 blue marlin, 10 sailfish and seven white marlin for a total of 39 billfish released or landed.

Activity of billfish in the offshore waters has been ramping up in the last few weeks.

“We’ve had two blues released and a whole bunch more sighted,” said Horton. “It looks like the billfish will be plentiful.”

Rascal got the jump on the rest of the field by releasing a blue marlin at 10:50 a.m. Thursday.

Results and happenings at the tournament can be viewed online at www.PointClickFish.com via www.georgetown.pcflive.com.

Far Out Shootout

Emma Rose, captained by Frank Johnson, won the overall title in the event out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Get Floor’d/OIFC took second place overall followed by Mr. Goodhands/OIFC in third.

Mining My Bidness caught the largest fish in the meatfish tournament, a 42.95-pound dolphin. Streamin Live weighed in the largest wahoo, a 39.7-pounder, and Get Floor’d/OIFC landed the largest tuna, a 20-pound blackfin.

Scale Bound released a sailfish and Reel Relief released a white marlin in the tournament.

SALTT fishing

Coach Rayburn Poston is organizing a saltwater fishing tournament series for middle and high school students.

Poston, who coaches the bass fishing teams at Conway High School, Conway Middle School and Whittemore Park Middle School, plans to establish a tournament trail for red drum.

Any fish weighed in during a tournament on the trail must measure within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum and be weighed in live.

A team consists of an adult (21 or older) fishing with two students registered in grades 6-12 from any South Carolina public, private, charter, virtual or home school.

Poston is hosting a general meeting for those interested in the trail June 3 at 6 p.m. at Conway High School. A Club Meeting will be held onSept. 16 at 6 p.m. at Conway High School.

For more information, call Poston at (843) 902-4274 or visit http://www.salttfishing.com/.