The return of the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series is a sign that life is returning to normal for the offshore fishing community of Palmetto State.
There won’t be five tournaments this year as originally hoped for, but there will be three events starting with this week’s 53rd annual Georgetown Blue Marlin tournament. Two events from the original schedule have been postponed due to the construction of the marina, the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish tournament, originally scheduled for May 5-8 and the Megadock Billfishing tournament which was scheduled for July 14-17. These two tournaments are expected to be back on the schedule for 2022.
The last time the series only had three tournaments was in 2009.
Fishing days for the Georgetown Blue Marlin tournament, fished in the Georgetown Landing Marina, are May 27-30. The Carolina Billfish Classic is June 23-26 and the Edisto Invitational Billfish tournament is July 21-24.
Wally Jenkins, program coordinator for the Governor’s Cup, said interest in this year’s series was high. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only one event took place in 2020, the Carolina Billfish Classic departing from Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina. This tournament attracted 47 entries and the fishermen released 10 blue marlin and 54 sailboats. No Governor’s Cup champion was recognized last year as there was only one tournament.
This will be the 33rd year of the event which was created with the idea of ââpromoting catch and release fishing. Prior to the start of the Governor’s Cup, there was a 90 percent rate of captured billfish being brought to the wharf. There is now a 99% release rate in South Carolina.
The only billfish that can be caught in Governor’s Cup tournaments are blue marlin, and they must measure 105 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Federal regulations are 99 inches. White marlin, sailfish and spearfish are caught and released only.
The score in Governor’s Cup tournaments is one point per pound for landed blue marlin. The released blue marlin gains 600 points; white marlin and spearfish score 300 release points; and sailboats receive 200 points for trips.
Jenkins said he expects more than 70 boats to fish in Georgetown, generally one of the biggest events in the series. There were 56 boats in 2019 and 58 in 2018. Going back in Georgetown’s history, the tournament had 66 boats in 2003, 64 in 2001 and 2002 and attracted 72 entries in 2000.
âWhen Bohicket was canceled I heard from a lot of fishermen who were disappointed. This is the time when blue marlin is here in greatest numbers,â Jenkins said. “Evidenced by the number of boats, the feeling is that the fishing community wants to resume normal activities.”
This appears to be the case for the Editorial Invitational, which has a waiting list. Jenkins said interest in outdoor activities increased in South Carolina during the pandemic and income from the sale of fishing licenses increased.
âWhen it all started, we were worried that people wouldn’t buy licenses and participate in outdoor activities,â he said. “Hopefully this trend will continue now that people enjoy the outdoors more.”
Nautical Club of America
America’s Boating Club Charleston will be hosting boating safety courses June 12-26 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Classes start at 9 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. Successful participants obtain the SC Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. The cost is $ 25 for adults and youth ages 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.