Slow billfish action or not, Capt. Bobby Garmany of Bench Mark considers winning the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament a huge achievement.
Garmany, owner Stephen Davis and crew aboard Bench Mark fished the first two days of the 52nd annual tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina and accumulated 900 points after releasing a blue marlin and a white marlin.
The crew waited out the final day of fishing last Saturday, when 47 boats in the field of 55 fished to culminate the tournament. When fishing ended at 3 p.m., Bench Mark remained atop the leaderboard and was declared the winner.
“It was a long day Saturday waiting it out,” said Garmany. “We tried to stay stay as busy as we could, and at 3 p.m. we got the call (that we had won it). I never thought it would hold up.”
Garmany is a veteran of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, first fishing in it in 1992 and most years since. The victory was his third as a captain at Georgetown — along with 1993 and 2000 — and the significance is not lost on him.
“I told people it’s like winning the Masters golf tournament,” said Garmany. “It’s the most prestigious (billfish) tournament (in the series).”
Rare Breed and Tighten Up finished second and third, respectively, with 600 points each with a blue marlin release. Five other boats, Christy II, Home Run, Inappropriate, Jackpot and Mister Pete, also finished with 600 points for a blue marlin release, but Rare Breed and Tighten Up caught theirs first.
The 55-boat field combined to release 11 sailfish, nine blue marlin, three white marlin and two spearfish compared to a year ago when 17 blues, 11 sails, two whites and one spearfish were released.
The numbers are also down through two tournaments in the series, including the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, which concluded on May 11. Through the two tournaments, 12 blues, 14 sails, five whites and two spearfish have been released. A year ago through the same two events, 41 blue marlin, 19 sailfish, three white marlin and one spearfish were released.
Garmany feels the billfish are heading this way.
“It has been slow but they’re seeing a lot of fish in the Abacos in the Bahamas,” said Garmany. “I’m thinking June’s going to be good. I think the CBC (Carolina Billfish Classic) should be a good event. Fish migrate just like ducks or anything. They migrate on the moon and I think they’re just a few weeks behind.”
The CBC is the next stop on the Governor’s Cup tour, June 19-22 out of Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina.
Garmany also runs charter trips on the Bench Mark, a 58-foot, Buddy Cannady custom-built vessel, and he had a trip the day before the tournament started. On that trip, the Bench Mark crew released one blue marlin and lost another while fishing eight miles south of the Georgetown Hole.
The next day, Garmany returned to the same spot to open the tournament and they released the blue marlin.
The next day, in the same vicinity, the crew had a doubleheader hookup of white marlin, releasing one and losing the other to account for the 900 points.
With only a 300-point lead heading into the final day of fishing, Garmany knew he had plenty of excellent crews breathing down his neck.
“The odds were not great it was going to hold up,” said Garmany, the Chairman of the Governor’s Cup Tournament Committee. “You know the quality of fishermen we have. I’m biased, but I think we have the most successful billfish series on the East Coast, to be honest with you. We also have a great staff with (S.C.) DNR, I can’t thank them enough for what they do for the series.”
Other members of the Bench Mark crew at Georgetown were mate Matt Murphy, Hunter Davis, Fleetwood Hasel, William Dottier and Michel Nix.
For complete results of the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, visit govcup.dnr.sc.gov.
On the north and south end of the Grand Strand aspiring young fishermen have an opportunity to glean knowledge from some of the best captains the area has to offer.
The Palmetto Kids Fishing Camps in the Little River area begin on June 11 and continues through Aug. 16 with eight four-day sessions for ages 8-17. For more information, visit www.palmettokidsfishingcamps.com or call 843-361-7445
The Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters 2019 Kids Summer Camps are set for each Saturday and Sunday through early September 1. Each session will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sunday and are for ages 16 and under. For more information, visit www.mifcfishingcharters.com/ or call 843-798-9100.