Cameron J. Rhodes | July 2021
When staff with the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series first get word that a blue marlin has been landed and is heading for weigh-in, a flood of excitement and emotions tends to ripple through the room. There’s much to do to prepare for the fish’s arrival and the phone starts ringing off the hook with questions from media and eager spectators.
That was certainly the case over Memorial Day Weekend when news spread that the Sportin’ Life, owned by Graham Eubank and captained by Mike Glaesner, had landed a Blue Marlin on the first day of fishing in the 53rd Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament.
Georgetown residents and visitors gathered at the marina to see the fish and celebrate with the crew. It’s not every day that you see such an impressive catch hit the docks in South Carolina. And when a fish of that size and mystique is eventually hoisted up and weighed, it’s not uncommon to see mouths agape.
Now while the Sportin Life’s fish weighing in at 445.3 lbs was no record-breaking monster, she certainly was large enough to meet the Gov Cup’s strict rules for landing a blue marlin. The Series’ size limit is significantly higher than the federal size limit for the species, a conservation measure established to keep smaller fish in the water.
A couple hours after the crowds left and the sun began to dip below the horizon, staff with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources began to take samples from the heavily iced fish, evaluating sex and gut contents.
Here’s what they learned:
• Given the size of the fish, it was no surprise that she was female.
• She had recently spawned.
• She had multiple small fish in her stomach that looked like bullet mackerel and frigate mackerel.
Staff were also able to extract otoliths (ear bones) from the blue marlin. Otoliths have rings just like those seen in a tree, so they can be used to help age fish. These particular otoliths will later be read using a microscope to estimate the age of the fish.
It’s certainly encouraging to know that blue marlin landed during the Series contribute to scientific research and management of billfish along the Atlantic coast of the United States. As per the Gov Cup’s rules, any landed fish must be processed for consumption. Shortly after staff collected scientific data, the Sportin’ Life’s crew and others gathered around to help clean the fish. Much of this meat will be smoked and served as dip.
Although they didn’t win the tournament, the Sportin’ Life won $156,750 since they were the only team of the 65 boat fleet to land a blue marlin. Released blue marlin count for 600 points in the tournament, while landed blue marlin are awarded a point per pound.
As a result, it’s typically more advantageous to release fish when chasing points. This year, a tournament record number of 46 blue marlin were released over the course of two fishing days.
The Inappropriate, owned by Frank Holtham and captained by Andy Crews, took the overall tournament win with 4 blue marlin releases. The team walked away with $135,960 courtesy of a triple header blue marlin hook up on their second day of fishing.
The Reel Hook Up took second place with three blue marlin releases and the Bench Mark finished in third place with two blue marlin releases.
You can find details on meat fish, lady angler, and youth angler awards by visiting the summary on the Gov Cup’s website: govcup.dnr.sc.gov.
Check in here next month for a summary of results from the Carolina Billfish Classic (June 23-26, 2021).
Also, as you’re reading this, we’ll be preparing for the final leg of the Series, the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament to be held July 21-24, 2021. We hope to see you on the docks!
Until next time, tight lines! – Cameron
– Over the last several years, Cameron Rhodes has served as the official photographer and social media manager for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Utilizing her Bachelor’s degrees in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami, Cameron also works in federal fisheries management as an outreach and communication specialist. While she is very proud of all of this work, Cameron is most excited about sharing the stories, experiences, and expertise of fishermen. She is not the expert here, but will instead be sharing news and information from those who know these waters best.
All Photo’s for this article unless noted are courtesy of Cameron Rhodes/SC Governor’s Cup
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