Celebrating its historic 50th anniversary in 2017, the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament once again proved why it is a favorite among South Carolina teams. At once steeped in tradition while looking ahead to the future, it’s a tournament enjoyed by all who participate. The total prize purse of nearly $170,000 is an additional incentive.
A number of long-time participants have been instrumental to the event’s success over the years, including Jim Johnston, who has fished the tournament each year since its inception. Johnston, along with Bony Peace, Wallace Pate and Marshall Truluck were among the core group of anglers and boat owners from those formative years of the event. In memory of Pate, who was an avid angler as well as a lure developer, each boat received one of his custom Pate Changer lures. In addition, the first boat to catch a blue marlin was awarded 50 $100 dollar bills, and the first blue marlin caught on a Changer lure received $2,000 in cash. Gryphon, a 60-foot Hatteras owned by Colby Griffin and captained by Chucky Moore, secured the $5,000 reward by releasing the first blue marlin of the tournament. Johnston was expected to present the $2,000 award to another team; however, Johnston’s Big Sky team released the first blue caught on a Changer lure, so Bony Peace presented the cash to Johnston instead.
The tournament also had the distinct honor of having the late South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr. family present for the awards presentation. Governor Campbell was instrumental in the creation of the Governor’s Cup Series in 1989. His wife, Iris Faye, was on hand to present the first, second and third place awards.
With a small craft advisory restricting the first day of fishing, the boats competed in a two-day shootout on Friday and Saturday. By the end of the second day, three teams were tied with two blue marlin releases and 1,200 points each. Artemis, a 50-foot Sea Island owned by John Darby and captained by Legare Smith, took home first place based on the time of their last release. The 61-foot Spencer, Anticipation, came in second with another Spencer, the 60-foot Chasin, finished in third place.
Gryphon currently holds the lead in the prestigious South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series with 2,450 points. Mister Pete is second with 2,050 points and Anticipation moved into third after the Georgetown leg with 1,850 points. Next up is the Carolina Billfish Classic, slated for June 21-24, 2017.