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July 18, 2008

South Carolina tops North Carolina Governor's Cup Billfish Shootoout

The 15th Governor's Cup Billfish Shootout Tournament was hosted in conjunction with this year's MegaDock tournament in Charleston, with South Carolina prevailing as the winner.

The format for the Shoot Out Tournament consists of North Carolina and South Carolina Billfish Series leaders from the previous year's Governor's Cup Tournament representing their state in a head-head competition. The Shoot Out Tournament is based on a catch and release only format and the goal is to see which team can accumulate the most release points.

Participating boats representing South Carolina were "Artemis," "Caramba," "Dough Boy," "Game On," "Home Run," "Houdini," and "Syked Out." "Hatt-A-Boy," "Maggie," "Reel Jim," "Sea Striker," "Stream Weaver," and "Tuna Trappe III" came to Charleston to represent North Carolina. According to Wallace Jenkins, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) program coordinator for the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, "The goal of this event is to build camaraderie in the billfishing community and promote billfish conservation and tourism."

To date, the Series has been won seven times by South Carolina, five times by North Carolina, once by Georgia. Twice the tournament has been canceled due to inclement weather.

During the three days of fishing, South Carolina boats accumulated 2,600 points by releasing one blue marlin ("Artemis") and 10 sailfish (four by "Syked Out"; three by "Caramba"; two by "Home Run"; and one by "Houdini"). In contrast, the visiting boats from North Carolina did not catch any billfish during the event.

Randy Gregory, program coordinator for the N.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series said, "Our boats decided to fish primarily for blue marlin (which earn 600 points/ release), by pulling big baits and plugs hoping to accumulate the most points. However, this strategy failed as most of the billfish released during the tournament were sailfish (which earn 200 points/release). Gregory noted his expectations for hosting the Shootout Tournament in North Carolina next year, and anticipates that their local knowledge will give them the upper hand and allow the trophy to return to North Carolina for the first time since 2004.

For more information on the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, contact Jenkins at (843) 953-9835 or JenkinsW@dnr.sc.gov, and Dukes at (843) 953-9365 or DukesA@dnr.sc.gov.

By encouraging live tag and release, the Series has focused attention on the sharp decline of Atlantic billfish and encouraged conservation of all marine resources.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.

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