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July 17, 2009

Megadock truly "mega" with record catch, release of 151 billfish

The final chapter of 21st South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series goes into the record books as the most productive three days of fishing in Series history.  The final stop in this year's Series was held at the Charleston City Marina on July 9-11 and yielded more billfish releases during the course of the three day tournament than has ever been witnessed in South Carolina.  With 74 boats participating in the HMY MEGADOCK tournament, 151 billfish were released, eclipsing the old record for a South Carolina Governor's Cup Series event by 20 fish.  The majority of the catch was comprised of sailfish with 138 released, but blue marlin (5) and white marlin (8) were also caught and released during the tournament. 

"To put the catch in perspective, more billfish were caught and released during this one tournament than the total annual Series catch for all but 3 of the last 21 years," said S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist and Program Coordinator Wallace Jenkins.   

One notable catch during the tournament was the recapture of a tagged white marlin aboard the "Cowboy" owned and captained by Wilbert Roller of Bluffton, S.C.  The fish was originally tagged for the Billfish Foundation by the vessel "So What" off the coast of Delaware near a fishing hole known to the locals as Poor Man's Canyon on September 14, 2008.  The vessel is captained by Peter Fisher, and Charleston native Allen Davis was the mate.  One could speculate that after the fish was tagged, it swam back south to winter and was once again traveling north when it was hooked up again during the tournament.  Recaptures of tagged marlin are very rare and provide important information on billfish life history and migratory patterns.

Points for Governor's Cup tournaments are awarded for billfish releases as follows: 600 points for a blue marlin, 300 points for a white marlin, and 200 points for sailfish.  During the MEGADOCK tournament releases also had to be documented with time and date coded digital photos or video of the fish and a color coded streamer to be awarded points.

The crew of "Micabe" won top honors in the tournament by earning 1,800 points to win the Outstanding Billfish Boat award, with the release of nine sailfish.  Mike Larrow of Ridgeland, S.C. owns the "Micabe" which is captained by Chris Jennings.  The boat was also recognized and awarded the Outstanding Billfish Conservationist for the nine billfish releases.  

Second place honors for Outstanding Billfish Boat went to "Miss Annie," owned by Barry Weshnak of Palm Beach, FL and captained by Matt Rabenstine, which finished with 1,600 points for eight sailfish releases.  "Rameseas" owned by Terry Wells of Wilmington, N.C. and captained by Rock Wells finished third with 1,500 points for releasing six sailfish and one white marlin.
Angler Willy Bell aboard "Blue Sky", owned by Gregg Smith and captained by Steve Cramer, won the Outstanding Dolphin award for his 42-pound catch. 

The Outstanding Tuna was awarded to angler Billy Ingram for his catch of a 21.1 pound black fin tuna aboard "Reel Passion" owned by Gary Richardson and William Ingram. 

The Outstanding Wahoo award was won with a catch of a 59 pound fish by owner and captain of the "Reel Hooker", Bobby Krivolarek. 

First place for Outstanding Lady Angler went to Kathy Baxley aboard "Flybouy" owned by Gary Davis and captained by her husband Todd Baxley.  Over the course of two days of fishing Kathy released one billfish from each species in the tournament earning 1,100 points and achieving a billfish Grand Slam which is outstanding in its own right. 

Second place Outstanding Lady Angler was Tara Asbill who released one blue marlin and one sailfish to earn 800 points aboard Danny Massalon's "Fin Addict" which is captained by Jim Bost.
Rebecca Wells won the third place Outstanding Lady Angler award. Wells released three sailfish aboard "Rameseas."

The first place Outstanding Youth Angler was Drew Nettles who caught a 20.9 pound dolphin aboard his grandfather, Aaron Nettles', boat "Short People" captained by his father, Andy Nettles.

For more information on the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, contact Wally Jenkins at (843) 953-9835 or JenkinsW@dnr.sc.gov, or Amy Dukes at (843) 953-9365 or DukesA@dnr.sc.gov.  By encouraging live release, the Series has focused attention on the population status of Atlantic billfish and encouraged conservation and proper management of all marine resources.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.

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