The crew of Artemis celebrates winning the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. Cameron Rhodes South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
June 02, 2017 5:25 PM
Time of the essence in Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament
By Gregg HolshouserCapt. Legare Smith of Artemis knew winning the prestigious 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament could come down to a quick catch and release last Saturday.
The first day of fishing was canceled due to rough seas on May 25, leaving the 44 boats competing in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series event with two days to fish two. On May 26, Legal Holiday released two sailfish and a white marlin for 700 points and eight other boats released a blue marlin for 600 points.
A mere 100 points separated the top nine boats as last Saturday dawned at Georgetown Landing Marina, with the title of the golden anniversary of South Carolina’s oldest billfish tournament hanging in the balance.
“I just knew if we wanted to be in the running, we needed to catch one early,” said Smith, captain for Artemis owner John Darby of Charleston.
After leaving the dock at 5 a.m. on Friday, Smith decided on an earlier departure Saturday to the same area where the crew had released a blue marlin the previous day.
“There was an eddy with some south current to it, north of the (Winyah) Scarp,” said Smith. “We left at 4:15 a.m. to have time to look around. Luckily I sat down right on top of one. Lines were in at 8 a.m. and we were hooked up at 8:05 a.m.”
Just after dropping the lines back, the crew watched a blue marlin approach a squid chain teaser.
“We pitched him a Spanish mackerel with a big ol’ circle hook,” said Smith.
Tommy Chimento, a high school fishing buddy of Darby, took the rod – 50-pound standup gear – to battle the estimated 300-pounder.
“We were on that fish for an hour,” said Smith. “The fish went deep so we couldn’t catch it quick. We all just kind of rooted Tommy on. He was strapped in and it was all him working the fish up.”
The Artemis crew released the blue at 9:34 a.m., and, sure enough, time was of the essence. Artemis, Anticipation and Chasin all finished the tournament with 1,200 points after releasing two blue marlin, one each day.
Anticipation, owned by Paul Coury and captained by Harvey Shiflet, released its blue marlin at 10:51 a.m. Chasin, owned by Smyth McKissick and captained by Bennett Griffin, released its blue at 12:56 p.m.
Earliest time of release was the deciding factor, and Artemis declared the winner with Anticipation taking second place. Chasin was third.
“Time was the big thing,” said Smith. “We got lucky and got our bite early.”
Artemis also received the Outstanding Billfish Conservationist award.
Darby, Smith and crew weren’t sure of the outcome of the tournament until they returned within phone range approaching the jetties at Winyah Bay Saturday evening.
“When I turned my phone on, I had already received congrats on voicemail,” said Smith.
Smith has a long history with the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, dating back to when he was a 15-year-old fishing aboard Petrel.
“It’s cool to win the Georgetown Tournament,” said Smith. “It’s a classic, one that’s been around forever. I’m 42 and it’s been going on longer than me.”
The two days of fishing produced 16 blue marlin releases with five sailfish and four white marlin also released. One blue marlin was brought to the dock but was under the 105-inch minimum size to be eligible for Governor’s Cup events.
Angler Robby Harrison aboard Tina’s Trippin’ weighed in the largest dolphin, a 51.2-pounder, while Tripp Johnston aboard Big Sky caught the largest wahoo, a 38.6-pounder. No tuna were weighed in.
Johnston is the nephew of Big Sky owner and captain Jim Johnston of Georgetown, who has fished in all 50 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournaments.
Before the tournament, all competing boats received a vintage lure made by tournament founder, and Johnston’s late friend, Wallace Pate. The first boat to catch a blue marlin on one of Pate’s lures was in line to receive $2,000 and a trophy in honor of Pate.
Fittingly, Johnston and the Big Sky crew were the first boat to catch a blue marlin on one of Pate’s lures.
“We caught the only (wahoo), and we caught a 103-inch blue that we released that won the Wallace Pate trophy,” said Johnston. “The tournament itself went off well, the only glitch was the weather.”
Johnston was already eyeing another milestone.
“I’m planning on fishing No. 60 but I’m taking it one year at a time,” Johnston said.
Other award winners included:
1st Place Youth Angler: Sam Daly, 15, Voodoo Child, white marlin release
2nd Place Youth Angler: EJ Nettles, 15, Short People, 30.2-pound dolphin
3rd Place Youth Angler: Chandler Griffin, Gryphon, 25.2-pound dolphin
1st Place Female Angler: Eugenie Barrow, Legal Holiday, sailfish release
2nd Place Female Angler: Angie Matthews, Nauti Girl, 20.2-pound dolphin
3rd Place Female Angler: Lisa Loud, Bruno, 16.8-pound dolphin
The late South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell is considered the founding father of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, and members of his family, including wife Iris Faye, were on hand to participate in the tournament’s awards ceremony.
CCA Murrells Inlet Oyster Reef Build
Members of the local Waccamaw Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association will coordinate an oyster reef enhancement project in Murrells Inlet on June 8.
The event will get underway at the Murrells Inlet Public Boat Ramp beginning at 1 p.m. The public is invited to help. For more information, call 843-455-0371.
Captain Mike McDonald throws a cast net to catch menhaden to use for bait in Winyah Bay, Georgetown. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
June 01, 2017 5:41 PM
Fishing report: Opportunities aplenty for anglers following rough stretch of weather
By Gregg HolshouserEstuary
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a nice week catching spotted seatrout and black drum in the Little River area. “We’ve caught a 4.5-pound trout on Thursday, a 5.5-pounder on Wednesday and several 2-3 pound fish,” said Kelly, who has used live shrimp on a popping cork to catch them. Kelly has also had good success catching black drum using live shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Kelly’s best success has come in Tubbs Inlet. “The shrimp are pretty plentiful if you know where to look,” said Kelly. “There are a lot of small fish and a few spots where the big ones are. You’ve gotta wait until the current starts moving.” Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has pounded the area from North Inlet and south to catch red drum and flounder. McDonald has used live bait (mullet, menhaden, mud minnows) and plastic grubs to catch his fish. On a Wednesday morning trip, McDonald caught four reds and a few flounder. On Thursday, McDonald had a productive shark-fishing trip and noted a water temperature reading of 78 degrees in the Winyah Bay vicinity. Flounder and black drum action has been solid this week in Murrells Inlet with flounder and red drum also available.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum
Comments: After a windy, stormy stretch, conditions are calming back down and fishing is picking up again. “The water’s still a little bit muddy but it’s getting clearer,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet. Maples has hit the near-shore reefs this week to catch sizable weakfish to four pounds, plus reports flounder have made a decent showing. Also look for spadefish, blues and black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit) on the near-shore reefs. King mackerel catches on bottom spots in the 10- to 15-mile range have slowed a bit this week but are still decent. Maples notes cobia are roaming the near-shore reefs and can be found on bait pods near the beach but cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Maples notes pods of menhaden are “everywhere” along the beach. Water clarity has improved as the week has progressed along the beach with catches fair from the piers for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano and flounder. Cherry Grover Pier reported a water temperature reading of 79 degrees on the surface and 76 on the bottom Thursday afternoon.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Trolling action offshore in areas such as the Black Jack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole is good for dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo. Blue marlin, sailfish and a few white marlin are also on hand. Many boats fishing in the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament last weekend ventured 70+ miles offshore to find the blue water, thus the billfish. Bottom fishing is simply excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts grouper and amberjack. Scamp are the most common grouper species being caught. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “I’ve been seeing a lot of nice bream, a lot of bass and decent catfish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The Waccamaw is catching good fish, (and) the Ricefields. On the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry they’re catching some beautiful fish (bream and bass). We are in a full-fledged summer pattern.” Look for bream in 2-4 feet of water hitting crickets and worms. “In some places they’re in six inches to two feet, around trees and cypress stumps but no more than four feet,” said Stalvey. Bass are hitting worms worked on the bottom, crawl-type baits and top-water such as Bang-O-Lures and buzz baits.
The docks at Georgetown Landing Marina were full of boats Thursday as a Small Craft Advisory canceled the first day of fishing in the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. Cameron Rhodes South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
May 26, 2017 5:41 PM
Despite interruption from Mother Nature, Georgetown billfishing tourney off to solid start
By Gregg HolshouserDespite windy conditions that derailed the opening day of fishing, the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament got underway Friday with solid billfishing out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
Fishing on Thursday was blown out by a Small Craft Advisory, leaving the 44-boat field with only two days to fish two, Friday and Saturday. The tournament is the second of five legs in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
Amy Dukes, coordinator of the Governor’s Cup for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, reported that 41 or 42 boats headed offshore on Friday to fish amid 7-8 foot seas.
“(Friday) morning was definitely a little sporty but it started to lay down this afternoon,” said Dukes. “They at least had a favorable (westerly) wind this morning to ride out in.”
Dukes said that at one point 52 boats were set to fish the prestigious 50th edition of the tournament, but some pulled out due to the marine forecast and others had mechanical issues.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the committee boat had reported 13 billfish were caught and released by the field including seven blue marlin, four sailfish and two white marlin.
Legal Holiday, with a homeport of Bohicket Marina, was the only boat to release multiple billfish – two sailfish and a white marlin.
Dukes stressed the catches reported by the committee boat were unofficial and had not been confirmed as of press time.
Dukes did not anticipate any blue marlin being brought to the dock on Friday.
The federal minimum size limit for blue marlin to be landed is 99 inches, but they must measure 105 inches to be eligible for Governor’s Cup competition. White marlin and sailfish are eligible for release points only.
A blue marlin release is worth 600 points, white marlin 300 points and sailfish 200 points.
Seas were expected to subside to 3-5 feet, according to the NOAA Marine Forecast, for the final day of fishing on Saturday.
The public is welcome to the dock at Georgetown Landing Marina for weigh-ins of wahoo, dolphin, tuna and possibly blue marlin beginning at around 5 p.m.
Visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov for updates on releases of billfish during the tournament.
Marlin Quay Carolina Slam
The weather also played havoc with this meatfish event. Originally scheduled for two days, Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina extended the event for a week ending last weekend to allow boats to get one day of fishing in.
“We had a lower turnout this year because the weather just wasn’t in our favor,” said Lawhon, who had a field of 20 boats.
Snap Hooked, captained by Greg Plummer, won the tournament by weighing in the heaviest aggregate of wahoo, dolphin and tuna. Snap Hooked’s winning weight was 66.05 pounds for a 55.20-pound wahoo and a 10.85-pound dolphin.
Lolligag, captained by Myles Herring, was second with 47.40 pounds including a 26-pound tuna and 21.25-pound dolphin.
On the Hook, captained by Jimmy Bass, finished third with 41.40 pounds including a 22.60-pound dolphin and 18.80-pound tuna.
Snap Hooked’s 55.20-pounder was the largest wahoo weighed in, Lolligag landed the largest tuna (26.15 pounds) and Jones’n, captained by Ron Jones, weighed in the largest dolphin, a 48.60-pounder.
Far Out Shootout
This meatfish event out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center was originally scheduled for seven days but was also extended, to 15 days, due to uncooperative sea conditions.
Sea P.A. topped the field of 41 boats with an aggregate of 70.25 pounds including a 24.35-pound wahoo, 29.85-pound dolphin and 16.05-pound tuna caught.
Sea Bandit finished second with 67.8 pounds followed by No Quarter in third with 67.45 pounds.
Mac Attack caught the largest tuna, a 25.3-pounder, Conference Call caught the largest dolphin, a 34.25-pounder, and No Quarter caught the largest wahoo, a 37.95-pounder.
CCA Star Tournament
The CCA South Carolina Star Tournament is underway featuring 101 days of fishing from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, on Sept. 4. Anglers will try to catch tagged redfish with a chance to win a 2017 Sea Hunt boat.
For more information on the tournament, visit www.ccasouthcarolina.com/star/ or call 803-865-4164.