By Jeff Dennis
The only question heading into the 2021 Edisto Billfish Invitational was how good the offshore fishing would be. But after an epic midnight weigh-in on Day One of a blue marlin that weighed 505-pounds, everyone found out that the billfish bite was on.
After three days of fishing, each with an afternoon weigh-in for a dock full of fishing fans, the meatfish winners were decided. In the billfish division, Home Run won the Edisto Governor’s Cup Tournament by releasing two blue marlin and two sailfish.
Home Run also won the Outstanding Billfish Conservationist Award for releasing the most billfish during the Edisto tournament. Owner Steve Mungo and Captain Grant Bentley and their crew are veterans of the Governor’s Cup Series. Second place for Outstanding Billfish Boat was Sportin’ Life out of Charleston, owned by Graham Eubank. Captain Mike Glaesner and crew released five sailfish to take second place. Third place boat Inappropriate also released five sailfish at Edisto, but due to time of release they finished third. However, Inappropriate did enough to lock up Outstanding Billfish Boat for the entire 2021 S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
Though the Governor’s Cup Series stresses the release of billfish, it is allowed to bring a blue marlin to the docks if it of legal size. The sportfisher named Glazed got hooked up with a blue marlin on Thursday afternoon during Day One of fishing. The daily weigh-in is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Glazed messaged the Marina at Edisto Beach that they were still fighting the fish, and thus they were granted permission to weigh the fish in later. Glazed ended up fighting that marlin for several hours and did not bring it into their boat until 9 p.m., setting up the drama for a weigh-in about three hours later, which is the typical time for a trip back from offshore.
Social media posts fueled the rumors of a giant blue marlin coming to the docks at midnight. The summer tourists at Edisto and the saltwater anglers all came to the docks at midnight, and some say the crowd was bigger than during the daytime. The weighing in of that blue marlin by SCDNR officials went flawlessly, but their work day was not yet over. When a billfish comes to the docks, the marine scientists go to work harvesting biological samples and data in order to provide billfish management research. Lastly, the fishing crew are responsible to cut the marlin into steaks so that they can be smoked and shared with others. Glazed won the Oustanding Billfish award and is owned by Miles Herring, who also serves as the Captain.
The high drama on Thursday night was reminiscent of the 2018 Edisto Billfish Tourney when the sportfisher named Anticipation brought a blue marlin to the docks on the final day, with only a few minutes to spare before the weigh-in closed for the day.
“Fortunate Son” is a boat based out of Edisto Beach, and they won the heaviest dolphin competition when angler Walt Stevens reeled in a 35.9-pound mahi on Friday. Team Hay Fever fishes out of Edisto, and is owned by Allen Butler of Walterboro. Angler Guy Griffin weighed in a 56.1-pound wahoo on Thursday from Hay Fever, winning the heaviest wahoo prize. The sportfisher named Cuttin’ Out won the heaviest tuna competition with a 17.3-pounder caught on Thursday by angler Tommy Murray of Walterboro.
The outstanding youth angler award went to Riley Overstreet, age 15, for releasing a Blue Marlin while fishing on Tighten Up. The outstanding female angler award went to Carson Smith, for her 46.6-pound wahoo caught while fishing aboard the Lady S.
Each night a meal in Bay Creek Park was catered by Pressley’s at the Marina. The restaurant opens to the public daily at 4 p.m. and offer the freshest seafood around. The Saturday night Awards were accompanied by a concert from the Shag Doctorz. Brian Bell is the manager at the Marina at Edisto Beach. “The crowd Saturday night looked to be the biggest we have ever had here during the Edisto Billfish Invitational,” said Bell. “We are grateful to the Town of Edisto for letting us use the park, and it feels like Edisto Beach and the Governor’s Cup Series are working well together right now. We are already looking forward to next year!”