The longest running tournament, the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, kicks off the 2014 South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Thursday at Georgetown Landing Marina. The event runs through Saturday with boats participating two out of three days. Weigh-ins begin at 5 p.m. daily, with the scales open from 5-9 p.m. Saturday.
Amy Dukes, tournament director for the Governor's Cup, said the entry level was on par with last year's Georgetown event which drew 33 boats, and that the offshore fishing forecast looks good.
"(Today) may be a little bumpy but Friday and Saturday are supposed to be phenomenal," Dukes said. "The bite has been pretty strong. From the guys getting out, we've had several reports of all three species (blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish) being released. And there have been some big blues caught."
Last year's Georgetown tournament was won by the Charleston boat Sportin' Life, owned by Manly and Graham Eubank and captained by Mike Glaesner. Sportin' Life released two blue marlin and one white marlin and weighed in a 534.2-pound blue marlin. The only two blue marlin that were weighed in the Governor's Cup series last year were both taken at Georgetown.
The Governor's Cup is celebrating its 26th anniversary with five events, beginning at Georgetown and wrapping up July 24-26 at Edisto Marina. The three events in the middle are all Charleston-area events, Bohicket Marina, MegaDock and Carolina Billfish Classic.
Boats earn points in the Governor's Cup for the release of billfish - blue marlin, 600; white marlin, 300; sailfish, 200 - or receive one point per pound for blue marlin that are weighed. Only blue marlin can be weighed and they must meet the Governor's Cup minimum of 105 inches fork length (from tip of lower jaw to fork of the tail). The federal minimum size limit is 99 inches.
This year's Governor's Cup Series also will feature live-streaming video of the weigh-ins by PointClickFish for those who cannot attend. Information can be found at the Series website, govcup.dnr.sc.gov.