This fishing crew already has a series win. Now, it's off to hot start in Georgetown

The crowd for the 2017 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament at Georgetown Landing Marina.
The crowd for the 2017 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament at Georgetown Landing Marina. South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series

It's safe to say Capt. Alan Neiford and the crew of Mister Pete is off to a hot start in the 2018 South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series.

Mister Pete won the series opener at Bohicket Marina on May 12 after releasing four blue marlin in its two days of fishing.

The trend continued through the first two days of the 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina, the second tournament of the series.

Neiford and crew used up their two allotted days, electing to fish on Thursday and Friday, and released three blue marlin to take a big lead with 1,800 points heading into Saturday's final day of fishing.

Mister Pete, with a home port of Ripley Light Marina in Charleston, had the first release of the tournament, a blue marlin at 9:04 a.m. Thursday. On Friday, Mister Pete released a pair of blues within a little over two hours, one at 11:10 a.m. and the second at 1:27 p.m.

Blue marlin releases earn 600 points, white marlin 300 and sailfish 200.

Now, Mister Pete, owned by brothers Bob and Rusty McClam, gets to sit back and see if the lead holds through Saturday.

Twenty-six boats of the field of 58 are eligible to fish on Saturday including two that are among numerous boats tied for second place with 600 points - Syked Out and Daymaker.

Micabe, which released three sails while fishing Thursday and Friday, is the only other boat with multiple releases.

The crews enjoyed tranquil seas in the offshore waters on Thursday and Friday.

"Thursday they could have water skied out there, it was so flat," said Amy Dukes, S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "It was pretty calm out there (Friday) too."

Through the first two days of fishing, the field released 13 blue marlin, eight sailfish and two white marlin, with no blue marlin brought to the dock.

The weigh-ins for the tournament are open to the public, with the boats expected to begin arriving back to the marina at about 5 p.m. Saturday.

Spectators can expect to see the meatfish species - wahoo, tuna, dolphin - weighed in, and possibly a blue marlin. White marlin and sailfish cannot be weighed in to a S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series event.

For more information on the tournament including live scoring, visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov.

Red Drum Limits

Gov. Henry McMaster made it official on May 15 - there will indeed be new limits on red drum in South Carolina waters, and soon.

McMaster signed legislation that will reduce the bag limit of red drum from three fish per person to two, and will establish a boat limit of six fish per day.

The boat limit is the first for red drum in South Carolina waters, and the slot limit of 15 to 23 inches remains the same.

The new limits will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

Far Out Shootout

On The Dot, led by Paul Cochrane, weighed in a 67.65-pound aggregate to win the tournament out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

The tournament allowed boats to fish one of 15 days from May 5 through May 19, and a field of 25 boats competed in this year's event.

The On The Dot crew weighed a 40.35-pound wahoo, 14.45-pound dolphin and 12.85-pound blackfin tuna to account for the winning aggregate.

Sea P.A. was second with 59.35 pounds and Clear Cut third with 58.5 pounds.