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No Rules Tourney won by Dealer’s Choice; sends donation to Memorial Reef

Crew of Dealer’s Choice with their winning 59-pound dolphin. Photo by Scott Rizer

Crew of Dealer’s Choice with their winning 59-pound dolphin. Photo by Scott Rizer

Fishing on May 18, out of Bennett’s Point, the annual No Rules Offshore fishing tournament added a new title. Now the event will also be known as the Billy Baldwin Memorial, marking the recent passing of the B&B Seafood founder and longtime tournament host. There are no rules for this event, except that the heaviest fish wins!

Boats paid a $100 entry fee to fish, and the 46-foot Bertram named Dealer’s Choice brought back an Ace to play at the weigh-in. Their 59-pound dolphin was the overall winner, earning Scott Rizer and crew over $2500 in cash. Finding themselves flush, the Dealer’s Choice crew elected to donate a portion of their winnings to the S.C. Memorial Reef.

The Billy Baldwin Memorial No Rules tourney had already decided that 2013 would be the year that they send money to the establishment of the South Carolina Memorial Reef, off the coast and in deepwater where offshore species thrive. Robbie Hooker explained that tourney sponsors, t-shirt sales, raffle ticket sales and other donations equaled about $3500. When the Dealer’s Choice crew finished playing their hand, the total donation from these Colletonians was $5000.

Butch Cooper and Stevie Leasure with a cross for the Memorial Reef.  Photo By Jeff Dennis

Butch Cooper and Stevie Leasure with a cross for the Memorial Reef. Photo By Jeff Dennis

The S.C. Memorial Reef has been in the planning stages since 2009, raising funds to put in place a brand new offshore artificial reef. With a deadline coming up this August to begin placing structures at the offshore location in 300-feet of water, there has been an uptick in recent donations towards this cause. The premise of the Memorial Reef is to provide a protected fishing area for offshore enthusiasts to memorialize those who have passed away, like Mr. Baldwin.

The offshore fishing community has been holding fundraisers during the summer Governor’s Cup events, and this year the S.C. Memorial Reef auction is planned for June 22. Coinciding with the Carolina Billfish Classic at Toler’s Cover near Sullivan’s Island, the auction will be held at 7 p.m. at Gold Bug Island, and includes food, drink, and a lively silent and live auction for the sake of bluewater conservation. Tickets are $30 apiece and $50 for a couple, and include live music from Charleston Groove Factory.

Despite a recent $50,000-donation from the S.C. Governor’s Cup Advisory Board to the S.C. Memorial Reef, they are still looking for additional funding and sponsors. Some offshore boat owners are stepping up, like Gage Blue from the Sadie Beth who donated 19 shipping containers to the reef project. The value of the containers is $16,500, but the long-term value of these artificial reef structures on the ocean floor is immeasurable. Mr. John Hill from the El Tejano contributed $10,000 towards the cost of towing the materials on barges out to sea later in August.

Of course, many others have been providing donations of their time and positive energy for several years now, in hopes of establishing an offshore fishing spot that will benefit generations of offshore anglers. As final preparations are being made, now is the time to purchase a special cross bearing your loved one’s name, to be welded to the reef materials by Cooper Iron Works. The cost for a cross is $200, and for more information visit the Internet at www.scmemorialreef.com.

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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (280 Posts)

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