Thirty-three boats are fishing today in the opening day of the 46th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, the first of five events in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
Ron Hortman, manager of Georgetown Landing Marina, said the number of entries fell slightly this year. Some boat captains may have pulled the plug after recent marine weather forecasts wrongly indicated heavier seas, he said.
Communication with the tournament fleet is limited, but first-day results should be available online this evening, he said.
The tournament is scored through a points system, and most points are earned through catch-and-release of billfish (photographs and sworn statements are required). A released blue marlin is worth 600 points, a released white marlin 300 points and a released sailfish 200 points.
Tournament rules specify that a billfish is considered caught and points will be awarded when all the following has occurred: 1) the leader is grasped by the mate or the leader is wound to the rod tip (a leader may be no longer than 30 feet); 2) the billfish is positively identified through digital photography/videography; and 3) the fish is released in a healthy condition. Boats are encouraged to remove the hook or to cut the leader as close as possible to the hook.
Boats are allowed to capture and bring back one blue marlin for weigh-in, earning one point per pound and fraction of a pound (minimum size for landed blue marlin is 105 inches measured in a curved line along the body from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw).
Boats will fish two-out-of-three eligible fishing days, Captain’s Choice.
The tournament shouldn’t need the Sunday weather day, Hortman said, so a winner should be declared sometime Saturday evening.
Here are the boats:
Benchmark (won second place last year)