On the second day of fishing, the historic Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament lived up to its reputation.
Longtime host site Georgetown Landing Marina was buzzing with excitement Friday afternoon after a superb day of offshore billfish action in the 49th annual event, the oldest billfish tournament in South Carolina.
After only two blue marlin were released during the first day of fishing Thursday during the second leg of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, action picked up dramatically on Friday when four blue marlin were released and two were brought to the dock.
“It was a heck of a day – a lot of billfish were seen and a lot released,” said Wally Jenkins, a coordinator of the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “Big fish too. It’s been a great tournament so far, Georgetown always is.”
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A total of 25 billfish has been released in the tournament including 15 sailfish, six blue marlin and four white marlin, plus the two landed blue marlin.
At the center of the action was Game On, owned by Bubba Roof with a home port of Toler’s Cove Marina in Mount Pleasant.
The Game On crew came up empty Thursday but released two blue marlin between 10 and 11 a.m. Friday, then capped the day by landing and weighing in a 477.2-pound blue marlin.
Kelli Ann Roof was the clear angler of the day after serving as the angler on all three blue marlin.
Big Sky, owned by Georgetown’s own Jim Johnston, added to the scene at the docks by weighing in a blue marlin, a 460.1-pounder that measured 108 1/2 inches. Tripp Johnston served as the angler.
Jim Johnston is a true pioneer of South Carolina billfishing and has competed in all 49 installments of the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament.
The tournament is scheduled to continue through Saturday, as competing boats had the option to fish two of three days Thursday through Saturday.
But with a tropical storm looming in the Atlantic Ocean and forecast to head for the South Carolina coast this weekend, all but one boat in the field of 38 fished Thursday and Friday.
Critter Gitter fished Thursday without recording any release points but was unable to fish Friday due to engine trouble. Critter Gitter is the only boat that is eligible to fish on Saturday but cannot fish if a Small Craft Advisory is in effect.
As of Friday evening, Game On was leading the tournament and expected to be declared the winner. Game On had a total of 1,677 points including 600 points for each blue marlin release and 477 points (one point per pound) for the landed blue marlin.
Sportin’ Life was second with 1,200 release points including a doubleheader sailfish release on Thursday and a blue marlin and sailfish release Friday afternoon.
Caramba was in third place with 1,100 points including a sailfish release Thursday followed by a white marlin and blue marlin release on Friday.
A sailfish release earns 200 points, a white marlin 300 points and a blue marlin 600 points in Governor’s Cup events.
The third leg of the series is the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, set for June 1-4.
Look for more details on the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament in next week’s outdoors column.
Gregg Holshouser: firstname.lastname@example.org