The 2011 offshore fishing tournaments got under way with the South Carolina Saltwater Sportfishing Association Early Bird event on Saturday (April 30). Ten boats headed toward blue waters on a day when winds diminished and the fishing was good.

Dolphin and tuna were readily available to fill the fish boxes, and the first-place club points went to Randy Donaldson on the Wired Up for his 26 1/2-pound dolphin.

The Early Bird is the first event of the year for the South Carolina Saltwater Sportfishing Association, which is followed by their Dolphin Days tournament on May 21 and three others events in June, July and August.

For club members it's all about the points earned along the way in order to be the top offshore angler at the end of the summer. First place earns 50 points, while second place gets 30 points; third place earns 20 points and fourth gets 10 points.

The weigh-in began with Matt Hoffman from the 32-foot Wellcraft named Glory Days weighing in his 24.2-pound mahimahi, which ended up in second place.

"We caught nine dolphin and one skipjack tuna from about 7:30 in the morning until 10:30," Hoffman said. "I used a Shimano 50-wide reel, and their favorite bait was a ballyhoo on a pink-and-white skirt."

Brain King from Glory Days weighed in an 18.8-pound dolphin that was good for third place. Finishing in fourth place was Kevin O'Neal from In Too Deep with his 16.9-pound mahimahi.

The tuna division, which was open to yellowfin, blackfin and big eye, went to angler John Friend. Friend is a wheelchair-bound angler who reeled in his 30-pound blackfin tuna from the boat Sadie Beth, a 53-foot Paul Mann.

"It felt great to be out on the water and getting back into the fishing routine," Friend said.

The second-place and third-place tuna each came from the Fin-Allie. David Sage took second place with his 26.3-pounder, while John Bullock earned third with his 25-pound blackfin tuna. The fourth-place tuna went to lady angler Ashton Shipman for her 21.4-pound blackfin tuna caught aboard Wildlife, a 60-foot Paul Mann.

Friend also was named the male angler of the Tournament, and Shipman was named the female angler for the Early Bird tournament. To view photos of the first place fish in the dolphin and tuna categories, check the offshore forum report here.