Georgetown Landing Marina will host the 52nd Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin tournament May 22 through 25. The tournament is the second leg of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, which also hosts tournaments in Mount Pleasant, Edisto and Johns Island.
Georgetown Landing Operations Manager Ed Keelin said as of May 14, he has 55 boats registered for the event. Keelin said he might get a few more boats to register before the captain’s meeting on May 22.
“Georgetown has the highest participation rate in the series,” he said. “It’s been the leader for the last 10 years. This is one of our biggest weeks of the year. There are boats coming from up and down the East Coast.”
Keelin added boats will begin arriving for the tournament this weekend.
Anglers participating in the tournament will fish two of the three days with all boats docking at the marina. Boats can begin fishing at 8 a.m. and will stop fishing at 3 p.m. Keelin said the majority of boats will fish 50 to 70 miles offshore.
Boats earn points by catching and releasing billfish such as blue marlin, sailfish and white marlin. Catching and releasing a blue marlin properly earns a boat 600 points, while white marlin earn 300 points and sailfish 200 points.
The members of the “Mister Pete," owned by Bob and Rusty McClam won last year’s event after releasing three blue marlins, earning 1,800 points. The second place boat, the “Glazed” captained by Miles Herring, released a blue marlin and a white marlin for 900 points.
Blue marlin are eligible to be brought to the dock to weigh-in for additional points, but according to tournament rules they must be a length of 105 inches, 6 inches more than the federal requirements. It has been at least two years since a blue marlin of that size has been weighed.
“Last year there were five tournaments in the series and only one blue marlin was taken. The release rate is up near 98 percent,” Keelin said. “By setting that size limit high, if you see a fish come to the dock he’s probably going to be right at 400 pounds.”
The scales will open at 5 p.m. at Georgetown Landing Marina and close at 7 p.m. for meatfish such as dolphin, wahoo and tuna but will remain open if a blue marlin is being brought to the scales.
“We’ll weigh it whenever it gets there,” Keelin said. “It’s a good spectator event. Word gets out if a blue marlin is coming to the dock and the dock will be packed.”
Points earned in the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament will be added to the Governors Cup season total and the boat with the most points at the end of the four tournaments will be declared champion.
Weigh-in will be open to the public all three days of the tournament. For more information on Georgetown Landing Marina, visit www.georgetownlandingmarina.com.