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July 15, 2010

"Megadock" Billfish Tournament comes off without a hitch

The fourth stop of 22nd SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series was blessed with three days of excellent fishing. The HMY/Viking MEGADOCK Billfishing Tournament was held at the Charleston City Marina on July 8-10, and yielded more billfish releases during the course of the three day tournament than has been witnessed thus far this year. With 62 boats participating and fishing two days each, 81 billfish were released.  As in recent history, the majority of the catch was comprised of sailfish, with a total of 64 released.  Three white marlin were also caught and released during the tournament. 

"The interesting thing is that for the first time in years, a large number of blue marlin were encountered, with 14 actually being caught and released.  This is more than the total number of blue’s that have been caught this year in the three previous tournaments combined.  Further, in recent years, July has been a slow month for encountering blue marlin," said S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist Wallace Jenkins. He added that, "The reason for the surge is unknown."  

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.  As with all tournaments participating in the Series this year, 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 the Bench Mark won top honors in the tournament by earning 1,600 points to win the Outstanding Billfish Boat award, with the release of five sailfish and one blue marlin. Steven Davis of Greenwood, SC owns the Bench Mark, which is captained by Bobby Garmany. The boat was also recognized and awarded the Outstanding Billfish Conservationist for the 6 billfish releases.

Second place honors for Outstanding Billfish Boat went to Reel Passion, owned by William Ingram and captained by Gary Richardson, which finished with 1,400 points for the release of two blue marlin and one sailfish.  Secotan owned by Paul Spencer and captained by Daniel Spenser finished third with 1,200 points for releasing three sailfish and one blue marlin.

Angler Ryan Higgins aboard Miss Magnolia, owned and captained by Tram Colket, won the Outstanding Dolphin award for his 50.6-pound catch.

The Outstanding Tuna was awarded to angler James Lucas for his catch of a 12.2-pound black fin tuna aboard Gusto IV owned by Gusto III Charters Inc. and captained by Tim Scalise.

The Outstanding Wahoo award was won with a catch of a 42.0-pound fish by Carter Smith aboard Mindset owned by Robert Goff and captained by Lee Conner.

First place for Outstanding Lady Angler went to Kara Slick for the release of one sailfish aboard Rock N’ Reel, owned by Allen Bell and captained by Chris Bell.

Second place Outstanding Lady Angler was Rebecca Boykin who also released one sailfish aboard Emily Bliss, owned By Michael Chukusky and captained by Abe Kuhn. Unfortunately, while both women had the same point total, Ms. Slick took top honors because her fish was released just 50 minutes earlier in the tournament.

Kathy Baxley won the third place Outstanding Lady Angler award for the capture of a 36.4- pound wahoo aboard Flybouy which is owned by Gary Davis and captained by Todd Baxley.

The first place Outstanding Youth Angler was Taylor "Smacky" Wood who caught a 6.4-pound dolphin aboard Emily Bliss.  No other youth angler released or weighed in any eligible fish.

After this fourth round of the Series, Caramba owned by Bob Faith leads in series points with 3,275 while Daymaker owned by Mark Daniels is only 200 points back with a total of 3,075.  The top five is rounded out with Game On, Reel Passion and Rascal all within striking distance.  Bench Mark’s top finish at MEGADOCK puts them in sixth overall while Dem Boys, Jabez, Big Sky and Big Kahuna round out the top ten as the Series goes into its fifth and final stop at Edisto Marina, July 28-31.

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.

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