(We apologize for the delay with getting this tournament report to you. Sue was fishing during this tournament and unfortunately her laptop “got humidified” during the festivities and it took a few days to dry out. Enjoy her daily reports below, which are in reverse chronological order. In addition, we’re still adding pictures – so check back often.)
Edisto Governor’s Billfish Series, Last Day
The crew of The Crystal Blue all had our game faces on. This was a last day of the tournament and we were serious about catching some fish! We decided to go South considering our previous fishing day on Thursday and eliminating our Northern bound options through trial and error. We came across some cooler waters and the beautiful blue waters that you find with the Gulf Stream currents running through the Atlantic. Signs of life were everywhere with flying fish the size of a small mouth bass.
I was ready to bust out my shotgun and go skeet shooting with them. As soon as we got our lines in the water, we had some knock downs with a shark, bonito and a dang remora! We were not set out to win the trash fish division however. Eventually came across some schoolie dolphin and two small blackfin that we put in the boat. I jumped on the rod like a little spider monkey when we went through that school of blackfins, ready to play my role and hopefully win the boat some money.
We worked the area pretty hard and ended up hooking up with a lively sailfish that put on quite a show for us. Tailwalking its way to the boat, we managed to capture it all on film. I can never get enough of that site. Was waiting for the BIG MAN in the BLUE TUXEDO to show up but he decided to take a sabbatical.
We successfully tagged and released the sail thanks to everyone on board working in synch together. We knew we were not going to win the tournament with what we had in the boat but we flew our flag proudly and I embraced that moment with my crew as we all smiled at one another on the ride home. This incredible crew gave it our all and we comforted with that knowledge with our camaraderie remaining intact.
I proudly pranced in my bathing suit down the dock with my fish to weigh in, covered in tuna blood, hair all over the place and discovered later…a little bird poop on my back! I was one hot mess walking through the crowds of people gathered around to watch the weigh in. Edisto really knows how to put on a show when it comes to the Governor’s cup. As your fish is being weighed in the crowd is encouraged to guess the weight. Hundreds of people are shouting out numbers as the commentator keeps you guessing and makes it into a little game for the children. Anticipation was building as I stood there in front of the crowd with my bird poop laden back with the look of horror came across my sunburned face as it came in at a measly five pounds and was informed at that point about the extra baggage I was carrying. Wahooo!
Reel Passion had an excellent run however. This boat owned by Bill Ingram and captained by Gary Richardson had already fished on Thursday and Friday and enjoyed their Saturday by tallying up 1,800 points for releasing nine sailfish to win the tournament and $19,131! This fishing machine, based out of Toler’s Cove Marina also became the Series champion. Reel Passion set Governor’s Cup records for most points (6,075) and for most billfish released two blue marlin, eight white marlin and 12 sailfish over the five events. Impressive!
Sportin’ Life finished second overall in the Governor’s Cup with a total of 4,175 points.
There was no change in the overall standings with the top three boats already having used their fishing days Saturday.
Sadie Beth finished second with eight sails and 1,600 points.
Lil’ Bit was third with 5 sails and 1,000 points.
Legal Holiday out of Savannah was the top boat Saturday with three sailfish releases and finished the tournament with 1,000 points however Lil’ Bit took third based on their time.
53 sailfish releases and one blue marlin ended up being the tournament total. There were 13 sailfish releases the final day.
The non-billfish category changed with Frayed Knot landing a 30.0 pd dolphin. The top tuna, 19.8 pds, was caught aboard Trick’em. Laff-A-Lot had the top wahoo, 41.4 pds.
First Place Lady Angler went to Keegan Kennedy aboard the Seatrace and 3rd place Lady Angler went to Sue Cushman (that’s me!) with her little football sized blackfin tuna. My trophy weighed more than my fish! Becca Jones, the tournament director, could sense my embarrassment over the little 5 pounder receiving recognition and informed the crowd that I was notorious for catching much bigger fish. Thanks Becca! You have been wonderful throughout this event and look forward to next year with you.
Youth Angler was tied with Chance Manhostra with Miss Beth with a 16.4 pd blackfin tuna and Rance Jennings aboard the Sadie Beth.
I said my goodbyes to my crew as I headed back home and they were headed out to sea. They are moving on to fish in Virginia. I will miss them but know that I will see them very soon and look forward to sharing our stories with one another and fishing with them in the future. Again, I have made some wonderful friends out on the water. I will be back with Hutch Holesberg, owner of Key West Boats, fishing the Fishing for Miracles Tournament on Aug. 11th-13th and look forward to reporting to you then.
Day 2 of The Edisto Governor’s Cup Billfish Series
My crew, The Crystal Blue, decided to take Friday off, waiting to see what the waters had to offer to our other competitors. I took advantage of the day off by loading up a wheel barrell full of Guy Harvey Magazines and Lex Melfi’s Sand Carved Glass’ portfolio and going around to all the boats that were fishing the tournament but had decided to hold back on fishing until Saturday.
I was invited to come aboard several respectable vessels to go over Lex’s portfolio and talk about the magazine. I had some help from Tyler Skipp aka “Little Man.” This 14 yr. old boy has been working up at the marina from the age of 10 and has fire in his eyes when it comes to fishing. He is going to be a fierce competitor when he grows up. He has taken 1rst place in youth angler several times and takes his job at the marina very seriously. This poor boy had been up since 2 am loading the boats up with ice and tending to their every need. Just when he thought his day was over, he ended up hanging with the Guy Harvey Girl with magazines in his hand and pulling a cart around the docks in 100 degree heat. Thanks to Burke Wall, owner of The Trashman, for making me his famous Trashman margarita at the end of a long day.
My buddies on The Sadie Beth, owner Gage Blue and captained by Howard Moseley were holding their own that day with 6 sails that they tagged and released on Thursday and two more sails on Friday. They are fished out and holding a respectable 2nd place on day 2.
Houston Demere, Savannah boy and angler aboard the Crack of Dawn weighed in a blackfin tuna at 16.4. Don’t ask how they got the name of their boat! The story they gave me cannot be repeated and I will take it to the grave.
Governor Nikki Haley made an appearance and spoke to the crowd before the Captain’s dinner, which was alive with excitement, wishing us luck for the final stretch. Most of us were deliriously tired and felt as if we needed every bit of luck we could get.
Mike Chukusky, Owner of the Emily Bliss, Bringing in Wahoo
Day 1 of The Edisto Billfish Tournament
Day 1: Left the dock at 4:30 a.m in my 58-footer with an interesting crew that consisted of Captain Will Austin who has fished around the world and has successfully won several major tournaments. Sam Hankins, owner and an avid fisherman, who has competed in quite a few billfish tournaments and has spent many years fishing some of the best grounds that God has graced us with.
Mike Chukusky, owner of the Emily Bliss out of Edisto teamed up with us after his unfortunate boat breaking down at The Big Rock Tournament. Mike fishes with intensity that is indescribable. He is a perfectionist…Sebastian was our first mate from Isla Mujeres and could school the most seasoned of veterans and Ole’ Fat Jack with some mad skills graced us with his presence. Captain of the Emily Bliss, Abe Kuhn, joined us the next day and we instantaneously hit it off. This calm natured boy that has a passion for fishing as much as I do is from my neck of the woods and can be just as raw as I am sometimes. This combination of eclectic personalities on this boat makes for a good fishing team.
We ran out to the ledge and worked the line between 250 ft. of water and 700 ft. Hooked up with a nice wahoo and saw a couple of free jumping sails that refused to hit our beautiful spread that consisted of 8 lines, two dredges, a daisy chain and two prospectors. We knew by 2:00 pm that we needed to make a move and get into lively waters. I have to give Captain Will kudos for having the guts to pick up and gun it to Georgetown Hole, which was 35 miles away from us, at that time of the day.
We had no action for too long with all the right elements in place. An experienced crew, beautiful baits, a good looking spread and all the hard work was not paying off for us as the day drew to a close. Water temps remained around 84.5 with no temp breaks and no bait fish as we arrived North of our previous destination. We took a gamble and we lost. Still had a fish to weigh but knowing that there was only one place in the wahoo division for the TWT, we did not have much of a chance taking first place with what ended up being a 31.8 pound fish. As I walked up with our wahoo to be weighed so did Laff-A-Lot with their 41.4 pd wahoo who ended up “Laffing” all the way to the bank with their meatfish along with 1 Sail and 1 Blue Marlin!
Not being on the leaderboard didn’t deter us from eating the most incredible wahoo ceviche I have ever tasted that was prepared by Sebastian. This is a recipe that I will have to share with you guys that he brought back from Mexico.
Reel Passion owned and Captained by William Ingram and based out of Charleston, SC released 4 Sails that day
Billfishin’ captained by Thomas Rivers and is owned by a non-profit organization called Hunt for Life, released 3 sails. They weighed in a 11.0 skipjack tuna under the meat fish division.
Sadie Beth, owned by Gage Blue and captained by Howard Mosely had a great day releasing 6 sails
Crack of Dawn owned by Walton Reardon and captained by Mr. Reardon and Houston Demere, weighed in a 16.4 tuna
Trashman, owned by Burke Wall and captained by Bert Klein, weighed in a 25.6 pd dolphin
Registration Begins for The Edisto Billfish Tournament
I arrived at the Edisto Marina on Wednesday, to find that 22 boats had registered for the final leg of the South Carolina’s Governor’s Cup Billfish Series. I had to wade through the flooded waters of the streets from the previous downpours that day to arrive at my destination. I met my new fishing family for the first time, The Crystal Blue, captained by Will Austin and Sam Hankins, Owner.
Edisto is such a special place for me. I have spent many of days taking my little 19-foot Key West Boat up into the flats in these waters doing everything from flounder gigging to catching monster reds feeding on the oyster banks and tailing up in the creeks. The shrimping there is worth the hour and a half drive for me from Summerville, SC.
You might as well leave your cell phone and laptop at home when you come here. If you are lucky enough to get service and odds are that you aren’t, you will not be allowed to use them as the locals will try to take them away from you! They always have a smile on their face unless they feel as if you are not slowing down to their pace and absorbing all that God has offered us here. Angel oak trees laced with Spanish moss are a common ground along with palm trees and sunsets that are astounding. Roughly 2300 full time residents enjoy this beautiful island and most of them know one another!
The little dock rat that I have become has led me to jump from boat to boat, depending upon the tournament, and which crew will show enough hospitality to take on this adventurous soul from Guy Harvey Magazine. Sam Hankins, the proud owner of two fine boats named The Crystal Blue out of Edisto, graciously extended the offer to have me fish on his boat as his lady angler. I have seen a lot of beautiful boats but this one just knocked my socks off!
Sam has spared no expense on turning this fishing vessel into a floating mansion. I was spoiled with an oversized queen sized bed in the state room with flat screens, surround sound, marble countertops and a high thread count on the sheets! I found myself abandoned with the boat all to myself in the evenings. Sam wanted to make me feel comfortable and did this simply out of respect but was not necessary as I would have settled for a bunk, couch or floor! For a “no frills” kinda gal, this was a welcomed surprise!
Thanks to Steve Wallace, Dock Master at Edisto Marina, for referring me to The Crystal Blue and taking such good care of me when I was there. I spent my day getting moved into the boat and then moseyed on to get to know the local scene. Tackles shops, food, entertainment and scenery were on my agenda. I found them! I decided to take the magazine on the road along with the new Guy Harvey art medium that I am offering.
The Thirsty Turtle is the place to go with scenic views of the Edisto River, live music, great prices and good ole’ southern hospitality. Underneath the Thirsty Turtle is the Edisto Watersports & Tackle Shop who has everything that you need to spend the day out the water. Had a late lunch with Nathan Smith over at Grover’s Bar and Grill formerly known as The Wyndam Plantation Grill located on a beautiful 18 hole, par 70 course with beachfront access and had a taste of Edisto with all it’s southern flair and sophistication. Ginger Wontons with squid ceviche, skinny crab cake with a beer mustard aioli and seared tuna with annatto and parsley oil, ginger and a soy glaze. Do not visit Edisto without paying them a visit! It was refreshing to see such an eager young chef commit himself to a restaurant that tucked in this resort community located off the beaten path of the bustling city of Charleston.
The Captain’s Dinner that night consisted of the Blessing of the Fleet and a visit from Mayor Burley Lyons who referred to Edisto being a beautiful oyster and Botany Bay. A surreal 4,687 acre wildlife preserve located on the North Edisto River being “its pearl.” He is certainly right about that! Pick up your surf rod and soak up the views!
We had some big boats come together for this tournament that have fished blue waters all over the world. Competition is fierce but camaraderie comes first here and that sense of community is certainly felt by all.
|Sue Cushman grew up hunting and fishing with her dad on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. At the age of five she moved onto his 42-foot Chris Craft and has been an avid boater and fisherman ever since. She is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for Guy Harvey Magazine.|