Governor's Cup has produced big numbers over last decade

Two crew members of the Rascal pose with the record blue marlin caught in 2005 in the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series tournament held at Charleston Harbor Resort. File/Wade Spees

A look at the numbers seems in order with the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series underway. Not having access to the same data from the previous 25 seasons, I made an arbitrary decision to look at the past decade to see which boats have been the top performers in the series.

From 2004 through 2013, only one boat has won the Governor's Cup more than once - Caramba, owned by Bob Faith and captained by Dale Lackey, won the overall championship in 2006, 2010 and 2012.

The Charleston crew did not win a tournament in 2006 but was the overall champion on the strength of four blue marlin releases, four white marlin releases and four sailfish releases. That year, Caramba finished second at Bohicket and third in the Charleston Harbor tournament.

Caramba won two tournaments in 2010, Georgetown and the Carolina Billfish Classic, releasing three blue marlin and 10 sailfish. Caramba had a best finish of third in the 2012 MegaDock tournament but won the overall title with five blues, one white and nine sailfish.

The most top-10 finishes in the Governor's Cup during the past decade is six by the Georgetown boat Rascal, owned by Norman Pulliam and captained by Mark Rogers. Rascal won the overall title in 2005, finished fourth in 2008, 2010 and 2011, was seventh in 2012 and finished second in 2013.

Game On, owned by Bubba Roof and captained by Trey McMillan, won the Series in 2004, was second in 2007, third in 2010, fourth in 2013 and seventh in 2005.

Three boats had four top-10s during the last decade - Daymaker out of Georgetown, owned by Mark Daniels and captained by Jay Weaver; Houdini, owned by Jim Shannon and captained by the late Wayne Skinner; and Sportin' Life, owned by Manly and Graham Eubank and captained by Mike Glaesner.

During the past decade, 60 different boats have finished in the top 10 in yearly points and 25 boats have multiple top-10 finishes. The total number of Governor's Cup entries from 2004-2013 was 1,464, although many boats fish more than one event per year.

When the Governor's Cup began, a premium was placed on catch-and-release, and during the past 10 years, only 15 blue marlin were brought to the dock, six of them in 2005; during that decade, 1,885 billfish were released. Last year's release rate of 98.9 percent was the first time since 2005 that the percentage had dropped below 99 percent released fish. In 2011, all 225 billfish caught during the Governor's Cup were released.

Governor's Cup participants released 385 blue marlin between 2004-13, 218 white marlin and 1,280 sailfish.

The icing on the Governor's Cup cake, though, is a fish that was not released, a state record 881.8-pound blue marlin caught in 2005 by Rascal at the Charleston Harbor tournament.