The crew of the Full Pull was sitting in the cockpit early Friday morning at the Charleston City Marina, trying to make a decision whether or not they should use that day as their final allotted day of competition in the Charleston Angler MegaDock Billfishing Tournament.
"We were very indecisive about it," said boat owner John Floyd of Spartanburg. "Then we saw the Frenzy go by, and it was right behind us in points. We saw the Rascal go. We told Chucky (Full Pull Capt. Charles Moore) to light her up. It's time to go fishing. And we did."
That turned out to be a fortuitous decision. Despite some heavy seas, Full Pull, a 57-foot Bobby Croswait, managed to release two sailfish and pull into the lead. And when Saturday's final day of the tournament was canceled because of small craft warnings posted by the National Weather Service, the Full Pull team, which fishes out of Toler's Cove Marina in Mount Pleasant, had its first-ever South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series title.
Full Pull won a total of $90,185 out of a total tournament payout of $262,250.
Governor's Cup participants earn 600 points for blue marlin, 300 points for white marlin and 200 points for sailfish releases. Full Pull finished the tournament with 1,100 points by releasing a total of four sailfish and one white marlin.
Second place and $78,600 with 1,000 points went to Cacique, a 64-foot Viking out of Virginia Beach, Va. Cacique released five sailfish Thursday and planned to fish Saturday but came up short with the small craft warning. Jabez finished third with 800 points and won $30,315, while Frenzy was fourth, also with 800 points, and won $8,550. Freeman 33, which released four sailfish on Friday, won the Pursuit Challenge and $7,500.
In the non-billfish categories, Blue Sky won $18,700 with the top dolphin, 39.6 pounds; El Tejano won $17,500 for a 42.4-pound wahoo; and Rodeo earned $4,250 for the top tuna, 21.4 pounds.
Jessica Mitchell, aboard Crystal Blue, was the top lady angler and Karly Boggus, aboard Billfishin', was the top youth angler.
"Our whole thought was to go fish, have a good time and catch as many billfish as we could," Floyd said. "Pretty much with every tournament, our strategy is to fish the best two weather days we can.
"Two or three years ago (at another tournament), we got to sit at the dock in a very similar situation to what the rest of these guys did this morning. We planned to meet at the boat at 4:30 Friday morning and make the decision. That way you're not tempted to stay in bed and make a bad decision.
"I don't guess it's sunk in to everybody," Floyd added. "We're pretty happy. It could easily have happened the other way. We could have fished (Friday) in rough seas and it could have calmed down like everybody thought it was going to do. We were so lucky. There were some really good fishermen well within striking distance."