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2018 Edisto Billfish Tournament – Mister Pete Wins Anticipation Delivers Blue Marlin Moments Before Scales Close

The Marina at Edisto Beach is home to the final event in the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. The marina has hosted other fishing tournaments throughout the summer, and the 35 sportfishing boats have been competing at various other locations, meaning that all parties are ready to be at their best. Mister Pete released five sailfish on Saturday to win the Edisto event, but they also clinched the Best Billfish Boat title for the entire Governor’s Cup series.

But the final day of fishing also brought high drama with the boat named Anticipation battling a blue marlin for five hours at sea, before making an exhilarating full-throttle run back to port. Fishing fans on the docks were pushed into a frenzy with the frantic arrival of Anticipation just five minutes before the 7 p.m. weigh-in cutoff. Officials from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources measured the blue marlin onboard as 111-inches. The blue marlin weighed-in at 484.4-pounds, and the crew of the Anticipation became the focus of attention on the docks, and all across Edisto Island.

While many of the boats fishing from South Carolina are considered to be local, other states like Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia were present too. The Anticipation is a 61-foot Spencer Yacht rom Virginia Beach, Virginia owned by Paul Coury. Captain Harvey Shiflet and mate Frank Riganto keep the boat ready for tournament day and angler Drew Wilkinson of Virginia used the Shimano 80W reel to fight the blue marlin. He was hooked up at 11:20 a.m. after the blue marlin approached the teaser baits, and Wilkinson fed it a Spanish mackerel pitch bait. He fought the blue marlin for four hours, at which time the fish sounded deep and died. Wilkinson pushed the drag setting tight and cranked the blue marlin straight up, boating the fish at 4:35.

“The blue marlin did a lot of classic greyhounding along the surface of the water early in the fight,” said Wilkinson. “During one surging run it came towards the boat and jumped out of the water right by us, and I could see the entire fish. I knew right then this was a fish of a lifetime for me, and I was ready for anything.” Tournament rules stipulate that only one angler may handle the reel, so it was all on Wilkinson to fight the fish. Crew members Charles Ragsdale and Keegan Kennedy joined the team effort to keep Wilkinson calm and cool while in the fighting chair.

When a big fish jumps nearby, it often means that a large amount of fishing line is in the water, and it can be a tricky time reeling it back in tight against a mature big game fish. “Capt. Shiflet made tight turns when needed and hollered at me about how this was the fish we all hoped to find,” said Wilkinson. “This was a team effort and Mr. Coury was right there in the action too.” After the fish was onboard, the GPS plotter displayed arrival time at Edisto to be 6:55 p.m., but arriving one minute after 7 would disqualify their fish. Rough seas can increase travel times, but on this afternoon the ocean was calm enough for them to cruise at their top speed of 29-knots.

The Anticipation shared this info with the marina at Edisto via satellite phone because SCDNR protocol calls for special handing of any blue marlin brought in. Marina manager Brian Bell brought out a special tarp for transportation of the fish while dock workers constructed a makeshift fish box with loads of ice ready to put on the fish. When the Anticipation came into view of the marina, the crowd hooted and hollered knowing that the Anticipation beat the clock, making them wait for the chance to view of a blue marlin. SCDNR harvests biological data from the fish for science, and the Anticipation sends the marlin meat to be smoked before consumption. A full-mount of the blue marlin is also in the works.

The Saturday evening agenda included live music, and catered supper by Pressley’s in Bay Creek Park, before the tournament awards for heaviest meatfish winners and more. The exciting weigh-in fueled the entire night, with families sharing time together, and anglers sharing stories from their day of fishing. The 99 total sailfish releases during the Edisto event and six blue marlin releases, underscore the conservation ethic practiced here. Late July at Edisto means sweet corn, tomatoes, loggerhead turtles, and summer fun but 2018 will forever include the big one that didn’t get away and the electricity provided by Anticipation.

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

Edisto Outstanding Billfish Boat
First Place – Mister Pete: One blue marlin and 8 sailfish releases
Second Place – Syked Out: 10 sailfish releases
Third Place – Reel Passion: 1 blue marlin and 4 sailfish releases

Edisto Outstanding Meatfish
Dolphin – 23.1-pounds – Tighten Up: Angler Riley Overstreet
Tuna – 23.4-pounds – Rookie IV: Angler Edgar Buck
Wahoo – 40.3-pounds – Voodoo Child: Angler James Daly

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (341 Posts)

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