By Jeff Dennis
The 2021 Edisto Billfish Invitational returns to full strength this year after Covid-19 caused the event to be canceled in 2020.
The Edisto Billfish tourney remains the final event in the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, and the top boats are registered to compete July 22 – 24 to see who wins the 2021 title of Outstanding Billfish Boat. This year’s tourney also features a new weigh station for boats fishing from other marinas.
Brian Bell is the manager of the Marina at Edisto Beach. He says the summer season has been going great so far down on the docks, and that Edisto businesses are gearing up for the upcoming tournament.
“When we expanded the docks in front of the marina office, we also increased our fueling stations and are pumping plenty of non-ethanol gas for boaters now,” said Bell. “Our Thirsty Fish Tiki Bar is open 6 days a week in summer and we have live music out there most every evening. There are no Covid restrictions in place right now from the state or from the Town of Edisto, so we welcome everyone back to the Edisto Governor’s Cup after a two-year layover.”
According to Bell, the 2021 tournament T-shirt design came from local marine artist, Steve Goine. “New sponsor T-Mobile will be on site with a truck and showcase electronics and provide games for youth,” said Bell.
Other new sponsors include Maker’s Mark, Huk apparel and Vacasa rentals. The Town of Edisto Beach and its council and mayor are also large supporters of the event.
“A special shout-out goes to Becca Boykin who helps make this tournament happen each year, keeping track of it all from her magic clipboard,” Bell said.
Edisto Tourney Schedule
The event schedule begins on Wednesday, July 21 with a Captain’s Meeting at 6 p.m., followed by a dinner for fishing participants. Live Music from the Sounddogs Duo in Bay Creek Park is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m.
There are three eligible fishing days and boats will choose to fish two out of three, with legal fishing time running from 8 to 3 each day. Weigh in on the docks is open to the public each day from 5 – 7. Daily activities in Bay Creek Park include arts and crafts vendors at 3 p.m. with music from DJ Pat Patterson at 5.
Pressley’s at the Marina will cater the evening meals for fishing participants. Anglers look forward to the menu of Prime Rib on Wednesday, Beaufort Stew on Thursday, Pork Ribeye and mashed potato bar on Friday, and Barbecue on Saturday. Each night the live music entertainment is free to the public and the schedule includes The Straight Shooters on Thursday, Hunter Holland on Friday and The Shag Doctorz on Saturday.
The Awards Ceremony on Saturday usually takes place during the dinner hour between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., and will recognize the winner of the Edisto tourney.
This year is also going to feature food trucks on Saturday.
“The top five boats in the Governor’s Cup Series heading into Edisto are Inappropriate, Reel Hook Up, Home Run, Blue Sky and Glazed,” said Bell. “The weigh scales at Charleston Harbor Marina, home to the Carolina Billfish Classic, are for boats weighing meat fish. If a boat fishing out of another marina has a billfish to weigh, they must come to the Marina at Edisto Beach. Wally Jenkins with SCDNR will retire soon after the Edisto Governor’s Cup tourney, and he shared that his first tourney was also at Edisto back in 2008, and so welcome him back and wish him well in the future.”
“The billfish bite in 2019 was good, and we are hopeful for more fishing success this year,” said Bell. “As of now we have 40 boats registered, and if the weather forecast looks good, we might get some more to sign up. Boats can search weed lines for fish, or try the action at the S.C. Memorial Reef. In fact, a large 247-foot vessel named the M/V Coastal Venture is to be sunk at the reef this year to enhance fish habitat offshore.
“We are glad to be a part of the Governor’s Cup Series, which also provides research and guidance pertaining to the future of the offshore fishery.”
Visit www.themarinaEB.com for a full list of all the 2021 tournament sponsors.