John Darby said he owes his friend Richard Campsen a big thank you. Darby is attending Campsen's wedding today, so that meant Darby and the crew of his boat Artemis had to fish Thursday and Friday in the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament.
Artemis, a 50-foot express built by Sea Island Boatworks of Mount Pleasant and captained by David Copleston, had the best day of any boat thus far in the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, releasing three blue marlin to earn 1,800 points.
That boosted Artemis into first place for the overall series with 2,775 points — 750 points ahead of Game On, which released a blue marlin Thursday but did not fish Friday.
Boats are allowed to fish two out of three days, but Game On will need to have an outstanding day of its own to regain the lead.
Points for Governor's Cup tournaments this year are: 600 points for a tagged or released blue marlin, 200 points for a tagged or released white marlin and 100 points for a tagged or released sailfish.
Boats receive one point per pound for blue marlin that are brought to the dock. In addition, boats are awarded 25 participation points for each series tournament entered up to a maximum of three events.
Eight of the 30 boats in the Bohicket Marina tournament fished Friday, with 26 eligible to fish today.
The final weigh-in runs from 5-7 p.m.
Heavy Iron, a 61-foot Viking owned by Malphrus Construction and captained by Trey McMillan, also had a hot day, releasing five sailfish to earn 500 points.
Heading into the final day, the participants have released three blue marlin and 16 sailfish.
"It was a huge day," Copleston said, adding that all of Artemis's blues were between 200 and 300 pounds. Artemis hooked its first blue marlin at 8:12 a.m. and released it 12 minutes later.
At 9:39, the boat had a double blue marlin hookup and managed to catch one.
The final blue was hooked at 12:06 p.m. and released four minutes later.
Eric Burn was the angler on the first fish, while Darby's son, J.C. Darby, caught the other two blues, his first in South Carolina waters.
That distinction got him the traditional toss into the water just before they got back to the dock.
"Richard's wedding is at 5 p.m., so I'll miss the (Bohicket) festivities," Darby said. "I'll be on pins and needles waiting to hear. This was a wild day."
There were no changes in the non-billfish categories. Jason Corley, aboard Mutts & Jeff, has the top dolphin at 38.8 pounds; Palmer Owings, aboard Northstar, has the top wahoo at 45.5 pounds; and Keagan Kennedy, aboard Sea Trace, has the top tuna at 29.0 pounds.
The top three billfish boats will earn $8,000, $4,000 and $3,000, respectively, while the non-billfish categories are worth $1,500 each.