‘Tomorrow will be a big day’: Fishing in Georgetown blue marlin tournament heating up

South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
Slow billfish action has been the trend early in the 2019 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, but releases picked up significantly Friday on the second day of the 52nd annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament.

After the series opener, the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, produced only three blue marlin, three sailfish and one white marlin releases three weeks ago, the action wasn’t much better on opening day Thursday at Georgetown.

With 33 of the 56 boats entered in the tournament fishing, only one blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish were released.

But on Friday, with 30 boats fishing, billfish releases were consistently reported during fishing hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., as six blue marlin, four white marlin and two sailfish were released.

The tally through two days at the Georgetown event, the oldest billfish tournament in South Carolina, is seven blue marlin, four white marlin and two sailfish.

A year ago, 17 blue marlin, 11 sailfish, two white marlin and one spearfish were released at Georgetown.

“It was better than yesterday and better than Bohicket,” Amy Dukes, coordinator of the series for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said of Friday’s fishing. “It’s definitely less fish than we saw last year, but I’ll take it.”

A pair of Charleston area boats sit atop the standings entering Saturday’s final day of fishing.

Bench Mark, with a home port of Toler’s Cove Marina, released a blue marlin Thursday morning and a white marlin Friday afternoon and leads the field with 900 points.

High Yield, with a home port of Ripley Light Yacht Club, is second with 800 points after releasing a sailfish and a blue marlin in one hectic hour between 1 and 2 p.m. Friday.

Bench Mark has used its two allotted fishing days while High Yield is eligible to fish Saturday.

Six boats are tied for third place and easily within striking distance with 600 points, including Home Run, Rare Breed, Tighten Up, Mister Pete, Jackpot and Inappropriate. Of those six, only Home Run has used its two allotted fishing days.

With eight boats having already fished the allotted two days and one boat unable to fish, 47 boats will head offshore Saturday, all within striking distance of the lead.

“Tomorrow will be a big day,” said Dukes.

Among the field will be the Georgetown Landing crew of Big Sky, owned by Georgetown’s Jim Johnston, who has fished all 52 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournaments.

The Big Sky crew weighed in a 29-pound dolphin on Thursday to take the lead in that meat fish category.

The public is welcome to attend the weigh-in for Saturday’s final day of fishing. The scales open at 5 p.m. and close at 7 p.m. for dolphin, wahoo and tuna, and possibly blue marlin.

Boats can only release sailfish, white marlin and spearfish for points during the series, but a blue marlin measuring a minimum of 105 inches can be brought to the dock.