It was fitting that one of the founders of the South Carolina Blue Marlin Championship captained his crew to victory in the inaugural event.
Capt. Chucky Moore of the 50-foot sportfisher Artemis and Peyton Stilp, who works with Rookie IV, came up with the idea of the event that gave participants an opportunity to fish three days of their choosing over a three-week period.
And it was Artemis that earned more than $79,000 by boating a 504-pound blue marlin on May 17, the only fish in the tournament that met the 105-inch minimum length. That’s six inches longer than the federally mandated minimum size limit for harvesting blue marlin. There were other fish that were close to 105 inches, but all were released.
“We hooked the fish at 11:30 a.m. and boated it at 12:45 p.m. We had the leader in 30 minutes but the fish wasn’t ready so we fought it until it was ready and made it happen,” said Moore, who was In The Bite’s 2018 East Coast captain of the year.
“To have a successful blue marlin tournament, people need to be able to fish the best days. We fished around the moon and did good. The last day we fished the day after the full moon and it worked out. The fish ate a lure off the center rigger and we fought it for a little over an hour.”
Artemis is a 50-foot Sea Island Boatworks vessel owned by John Darby and built by Mark Bayne on Shem Creek. It suffered a lightning strike in 2018 and underwent an extensive year-and-a-half refit before returning to competition. Artemis won the coveted Big Rock title out of Morehead City, NC, in 2008.
Theo Jourdan was the angler on Artemis’ SC Blue Marlin Championship-winning fish, while JC Darby wired the fish and mate Reid Clifton and Clark Banks gaffed the big fish. Charleston native Cantey Smith took the meat from the fish and smoked it.
Moore said he and Stilt had talked about their idea for a tournament for a couple of years. The tournament would run three weeks, May 1-21, and boats could choose three fish days within that period, allowing them to choose the optimal days to head offshore. In addition to the 105-inch minimum, there would be a floating benchmark.
With a late start this year, the event drew nine boats that each paid a $10,000 entry fee. There also were optional $2,500 dolphin and wahoo categories but no boats weighed meatfish this year. Moore said he doubted meatfish would be included next year and it would be strictly a blue marlin tournament.
Moore said he thinks the event will grow and expects to get between 30 and 50 boats. A portion of the entry fees are being donated to the South Carolina Memorial Reef.
“At $10,000 a pop, that’s $400,000 (for the tournament payout),” Moore said, adding that he hoped to increase the donation to the SC Memorial Reef to 6 percent in 2023.
The South Carolina Blue Marlin Championship was only the beginning of a busy season for the Artemis crew which was scheduled to fish the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, head to North Carolina for the Big Rock and eventually make its way up to Ocean City, Md.
The Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTTfishing.com) wrapped up its 2022 season on May 21 out of Georgetown with more than $7,000 in gift cards and awards presented to the student anglers. SALTT is open to all student anglers in grades 1-12 and participants do not have to have a team or club at their school. The championship provided awards up to the fifth place plus big fish in each of six divisions.
Redfish winners were:
Elementary – Madelyn Taylor of Georgetown with a 2.54-pound big fish and 3.36 pounds for the division.
Middle School – Aden Day and Ayden Rouhselang of Conway finished first with two fish at 7.97 pounds. Jacob Hardwick of Hartsville was second with one fish that weighed 4.91 pounds and took big fish honors. Day and Rouhselang won the division with 18.51 pounds.
High School – Oliver Bomar and Connor Strickland of Georgetown had two fish that weighed 8.15 pounds. Cubby Weaver of Georgetown had the big fish at 4.22 pounds.
Largemouth bass winners were:
Elementary – Landon Allen Butler of Georgetown won big fish with a 2.17-pound catch Elijah Norris of Lorris won the division with 5.65 pounds.
Middle School – Gunner Hucks of Whittemore Park Middle and Levi Dickerson of Aynor had five fish that weighed 11.75 pounds. Branson and Tucker Howell of Hanna Pamplico had the big fish at 4.61 pounds and also won the division with 29.63 pounds.
High School – Jacob Martin and Colton Ledford of Conway won with five fish that weighed 17.86 pounds and had the big fish of 5.45 pounds. Dalton Hewitt and Brantley Todd of Georgetown won the division with 45.75 pounds.
Taylor’s Landing Bream Tournament
The second annual Taylor’s Landing and Campground Bream Tournament will be fished June 18 on the Santee Cooper lakes. Teams consist of two anglers per boat or two kayak fishermen. Participants can weigh 60 fish. The entry fee is $30 per team with a $10 optional big fish pot and $10 for heaviest string of 10 fish. If you register the day of the tournament there is a $5 late fee. First place will pay $250. Call 843-810-7485 or register at ticketstripe.com/BreamTournament.
America’s Boating Club
America’s Boating Club Charleston will hold boating safety classes June 4 and June 18 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Classes begin at 9 am and end around 4 pm Successful participants earn the SC Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. The cost is $25 for adults and youth 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email [email protected]