Jackpot Wins Big in 2019 South Carolina Governor's Cup

A slow start for the season ends with good numbers of billfish releases

team jackpot south carolina governor's cup
Team JackpotCourtesy South Carolina Governor’s Cup/Cameron J. Rhodes

Competitors in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series stepped up to the challenge this summer, battling a slow bite while pursuing the 2019 title. The series hosted four tournaments this year instead of the regular five, omitting the Megadock tournament because of construction at the popular Charleston marina.

After only one sailfish release in the first two days of Leg One—the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament—33 teams were itching to find fish on the last day. Syked Out's Capt. Dan Woody put his team on a blue marlin just 30 minutes after lines in, and those 600 release points catapulted David Sykes' team to the top. Although two other boats also released blue marlin later in the day, the team's early catch was key to winning the tournament. A total of eight billfish—three blues, one white and one sail—were released ­during the Bohicket leg.

Similar fishing conditions plagued the 56-boat fleet in Leg Two—the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament—where the teams collectively released nine blue marlin, three whites, two spearfish and 11 sails. Bench Mark owner Stephen Davis and Capt. Bobby Garmany opted to fish the first two of three days to end up with one blue and one white marlin release for a total of 900 points to win in Georgetown.

Rough seas and high winds delayed the start of Leg Three as Day One of Mount Pleasant's Carolina Billfish Classic was suspended. As the second day dawned, the fleet headed offshore, and amid those less than ideal conditions, the bite had improved. Forty sailfish and 11 blue marlin were released over the next two days, but not before Blue Sky and Jackpot battled it out for the lead. On the final day, Greg Smith and his Blue Sky team, captained by Jay Weaver, secured the lead with a blue marlin release, winning the tournament with two blues and three sailfish.

Check out our gallery of the boats of the 2019 South Carolina Governor's Cup Series.

Going into the final leg at the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, three teams emerged from the pack: Home Run, Blue Sky and Jackpot. Accumulating the most points throughout the series, these three teams fought for the finish alongside 43 other boats. Burke Wall's Trash Man started strong with one blue marlin on Day One as the other teams nipped at their heels. Capt. Shelby Myrick put his team on two additional blue marlin releases on the final day to win the tournament for Trash Man.

At lines out, the final series results were tallied, and Jackpot's performance in Edisto pushed it to the top—1,000 points ahead of the second-place team. Jackpot, owned by Joe McKinney and captained by Sean Dooley, totaled 4,075 points for the series; Blue Sky and Home Run were tied at 3,075 points, with Blue Sky taking second place on time. Steve Mungo's Home Run with Capt. Grant Bentley finished third. Over the four legs of the 2019 South Carolina Governor's Cup series, the fleet released 37 blue marlin, five whites, two spearfish and 108 sails. —Cameron J. Rhodes, SCGC