The Pawleys Island crew of Blue Sky has designs on winning the overall championship in the 2019 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series and, after capturing the Carolina Billfish Classic out of Charleston Harbor Resort last Saturday, they are in prime position to do so.
Owner Greg Smith and Capt. Jay Weaver, both Pawleys Island residents, head the crew aboard the 2017 60-foot Spencer yacht. In previous years, Blue Sky has fished billfish tournaments in the Bahamas while skipping the Governor’s Cup series opener at Bohicket Marina.
This year, Smith and Weaver will fish all four tournaments in the 2019 series, with only the season finale at Edisto Marina remaining.
The Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament is set for July 17-20, and three boats are separated from the pack. Home Run is the leader with 2,475 points followed by Jackpot and Blue Sky both with 2,275.
“We’re trying,” said Smith, owner of East Coast Honda and Volkswagen. “If we have a good showing in Edisto, maybe we’ll be in the mix.”
Smith has fished in the Governor’s Cup since 2003 and has yet to win the overall championship.
“It’s something that has eluded me for a number of years,” said Smith. “I would like to check that one off someday.”
Amid a host of Charleston area-based boats, the final leaderboard had a distinct Georgetown County flavor in Mt. Pleasant.
Blue Sky released two blue marlin and three sailfish for the winning points total of 1,800. Jackpot, out of Toler’s Cove in Mt. Pleasant, was second with 1,600 points after releasing one blue marlin and five sailfish.
Glazed, owned by Miles Herring of Murrells Inlet, finished third with 1,400 points for releasing two blue marlin and one sailfish.
After releasing a blue marlin and two sailfish last Friday (June 21) on the first day of fishing, Blue Sky released a sailfish at 12:39 p.m. and a blue marlin at 1:33 p.m. the next day to account for the winning points total. Dan Webster was the angler on the two blue marlin releases.
Capt. Weaver fished south-southeast of Charleston both days and had mates Josh Motte and Bill Turbeville deploy a trolling spread of predominately naked ballyhoo with the required circle hooks.
“The first day (the fish) were in 100 fathoms and the second day the water had pushed into 50 fathoms,” said Weaver. “We pull 4-5 naked (ballyhoo) and 1-2 lures in tournaments like this since there’s so many (fish) besides blue marlin around. We wound up catching the second blue on 60-pound flourocarbon, a small setup with a naked ballyhoo.”
Visit http://govcup.dnr.sc.gov/ for more information on the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
▪ Pier Kings: Typically the best king mackerel fishing during the calendar year from Grand Strand piers comes in the late spring and early autumn.
But anglers on the Apache Pier and Cherry Grove Pier were treated to an unusual late-June run of kings early this week.
No kings had been caught from the Apache Pier until last Saturday when angler Ron Hayes caught the first one of the year, a 10.30-pounder.
Over the four-day stretch from Saturday through Tuesday, a total of 27 kings were caught from the pier, including a 37-pounder landed by angler Sara Barnhardt.
King catches were also excellent on the Cherry Grove Pier, where 10 were landed between Sunday and Wednesday.
“The water temperature is 82 degrees, and that’s getting on up there,” said Apache Pier manager Calvin Dickerson. “Typically better fishing (for kings) is in the 65ish (degree) range and going up from there. It’s definitely unusual to catch this many kings this late, but we’ll take it.”
Dickerson noted this week large schools of menhaden and mullet have shown up along the beach, ushering in the mackerel.
In 2018, a total of 85 kings were caught off the Apache Pier, with the first one landed on April 28. This year, the first king wasn’t caught until Hayes landed his fish on June 22.
On June 1-2, the Spring King Mackerel Tournament was held on the Apache and Cherry Grove piers with no kings caught during the two days of fishing.