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2017 Edisto Billfish Tourney Raises Fish and Attendance

Jeff Dennis is a
Lowcountry native.
Read his blog at
LowcountryOutdoors.com

The dog days of summer settled in over the Lowcountry just in time for the 2017 Edisto Billfish Tourney, with hot weather translating into calm seas. With the weather forecast for fishable seas locked in, the Marina at Edisto Beach reeled in a fleet of 38 boats to go offshore in search of billfish and meat fish. The town of Edisto Beach and many local businesses also came together for this multi-day event that is partially based out of Bay Creek Park. When the fishing was complete on Saturday, Wildlife claimed the Edisto title, while Gryphon wins the entire 2017 Governor’s Cup Series.The dog days of summer settled in over the Lowcountry just in time for the 2017 Edisto Billfish Tourney, with hot weather translating into calm seas. With the weather forecast for fishable seas locked in, the Marina at Edisto Beach reeled in a fleet of 38 boats to go offshore in search of billfish and meatfish. The town of Edisto Beach and many local businesses also came together for this multi-day event that is partially based out of Bay Creek Park. When the fishing was complete on Saturday, Wildlife claimed the Edisto title, while Gryphon wins the entire 2017 Governor’s Cup Series. The Wildlife is based out of Mount Pleasant and is a veteran of the Governor’s Cup Series. Captain Jamie Brown and owner Ken Strickland helped guide their crew to the Day One lead after fishing on Thursday, July 20. After electing not to fish on Friday, they went out on Saturday and released more billfish en route to keeping their points lead and claiming victory at Edisto, setting off a celebration on the docks when they tied up. Plenty of boats released lots of billfish, and also had many more billfish get away, so it underscores that Wildlife was the most efficient given the ample opportunities that the ocean was yielding. For example, on Saturday alone the fishing fleet released 51 sailfish, 6 blue marlin, and one white marlin. Any number of boat captains I spoke to on the docks said that they had a realistic chance at more billfish, but that they would not bite the lure or they got broke off during the fight. Saltwater anglers know they won’t catch and release every billfish they see, but everyone appreciates that the billfish were plentiful.In order to earn points during all five events of the Series, fishing boats practice releasing billfish, which is then tied to the actual time of release. For instance, if a boat releases one sailfish at 8 a.m. and another boat releases one sailfish at 9 a.m. causing a tie in points at the end of fishing, the first release is deemed the winner. This time of release rule gave Anticipation second place at Edisto, since they earned the same number of release points as third place boat Mister Pete.Anticipation also doubles up in the meatfish category, winning the top spot for both the heaviest dolphin and the heaviest tuna, for owner Paul Coury and Captain Harvey Shiflet. On Day One female angler Whitney Arnold weighed in a 45.3-pound Mahi Mahi for Anticipation, and she also released two sailfish during the tourney. Then on Saturday Bubba Simmons weighed in a 12-pound blackfin tuna for Anticipation, the only tuna brought to the scales at the 2017 event. The heaviest wahoo went to Bolegs Warner fishing on the Dealer’s Choice based out of Walterboro, with a 73.2 HOO brought in on Day One.The outstanding youth angler competition was very tough this year, considering that 15-year old female angler Mackenzi Truluck released 5 sailfish aboard Salty Maintenance and only garnered third place. Second place youth angler went to 15-year old Chandler Griffin fishing aboard Gryphon for releasing one blue marlin and two sailfish. The first place youth angler went to E.J. Nettles fishing aboard Tighten Up for releasing six sailfish. Congrats to all the youth anglers that participated this year!Despite all the competition to win the Edisto title, the Outstanding Billfish Boat for the 2017 Governor’s Cup was clearly within the grasp of Gryphon, since they came into the event with a 2000-point lead over second place boat Mister Pete. Gryphon released one blue marlin and six sailfish during the Edisto tourney, giving owners Bob and Rusty McClam and Captain Alan Neiford the steady finish required to clinch the 2017 Series. It’s worth noting that the 2017 Edisto Invitational ends each day with a catered meal for participants and a live band in Bay Creek Park. A vendor’s village is set up with crafts and local businesses promote the appeal of visiting Edisto Island.Pressley’s Restaurant at the Marina provided the catering and prepared meals like prime rib on Thursday, pork ribeye on Friday and pulled BBQ on Saturday for the appreciative crowd. The Saturday night crowd was the largest I have seen at Bay Creek Park for the Edisto Billfish Awards ceremony with live music from the Shag Doctorz band. Marina manager Brian Bell took all the success from 2017 in stride, telling me that they are already planning for next year. See you there!
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (296 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com