The 8th annual HMY/Viking Megadock Tournament was decided after Benchmark released five sailfish on Day One and one blue marlin on Day Two, good for 1,600 release points under the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series guidelines.

Fourteen boats fished on Day Three, while Benchmark sat in port, but none could overtake their "clubhouse lead."

Owner Stephen Davis of Greenwood, a member of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' board, said the blue marlin showed up about 20 minutes into fishing time, and angler George Campsen fed it a pitch bait that was rigged on a Penn 80 reel.

"George fought the marlin standing up for a minute, but by the 20-minute fight ended we had him in the fighting chair," said mate Will Thornhill. "The fish was excited by our teaser, and we keep a horse ballyhoo rigged on a pitch-bait for this scenario."

Capt. Bobby Garmany said the fish came out of 50 to 60 fathoms of water, just south of the Southwest Banks.

The win was the first-ever for Benchmark, a 64-foot Jarrett Bay that was launched in Dec. 2009.  

Reel Passion, owned by Billy Ingraham of Charlotte, N.C., finished second with 1,200 points after releasing two blue marlin on the second day of competition. 

"Both fish hit about 10:30; I released one, while mate Ian Sharkey released the other," Ingraham said. "We were using dink baits (naked ballyhoo) rigged on circle hooks. We also missed three sailfish that day."

Reel Passion added a sailfish release on the final day to finish with 1,400 points. Saturday's fishing, finishing with 1400 points.

Capt. Dan Spencer of Manteo, N.C., finished third on Secotan, releasing a blue marlin and three sailfish for 1,200 points.

"The blue marlin came late in the day on Friday, about 2:30, and it streaked in to the teaser, then knocked the long rigger before getting hooked up on the short rigger," Spencer said.

Angler Bennett Griffin of Charleston had a 15-minute fight before the blue marlin was released.

The 62 boats in the tournament released 14 blue marlin. A total of 46 billfish were released on the first day alone, including 41 sailfish.

The final leg of the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series will be fished out of Edisto July 29-31. Caramba remains in the points lead, on the strength of their back-to-back tournament wins, for the overall title of Best Billfish Boat.


Meatfish winners at the MegaDock were: Ryan Higgins with a 50.6-pound dolphin caught aboard Miss Magnolia, Carter Smith with a 42-pound wahoo caught aboard Mindset, and James Lucas with a 12.2-pound blackfin tuna caught aboard Gusto IV.

Youth angler honors went to Taylor Wood for his 6.4-pound dolphin caught aboard Emily Bliss, and the Top Lady Angler release award went to Kara Slick for her sailfish release on the Rock'N'Reel. Karen Baxley's 36.4-pound wahoo, caught on FlyBuoy, earned her Top Lady Angler honors among meatfish categories.