Spearfish, or hatchet marlin, new addition to 2017 Governor’s Cup – Charleston Post Courier

There haven’t been a lot of rules changes in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, but one effectively added a fourth billfish species to the points list. Now, spearfish receive the same amount of release points (300) as white marlin.

During Governor’s Cup tournaments, boats that earn release points must offer photographic evidence that the fish they released was indeed a blue marlin, white marlin or sailfish.

“Over the last couple of years in reviewing photos during a tournament setting, I noticed that boats were commonly calling the fish a white marlin, but with closer evidence looking at a photo the fish was actually a roundscaled spearfish which is referred to as a hatchet marlin by many people,” said Amy Dukes, tournament coordinator for the Governor’s Cup.

During this year’s Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, one spearfish was caught on the opening day of the event.

Dukes said most anglers generally think of South Carolina’s billfish population consisting of blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. But a few of the participants’ catches were roundscaled spearfish. In order to head off any issues, the idea of adding spearfish was presented to the Governor’s Cup Board of Directors and passed.

“I just think most people don’t know they are catching them and think they are white marlin,” Dukes said. “We’ve been educating people and it’s been kind of neat to see that. ‘Hey, this is really cool. You caught a spearfish and didn’t catch a white marlin.’ It gets people excited.”

Dukes said the major difference between white marlin and roundscaled spearfish is the pectoral fin. A white marlin’s pectoral fish has rounded edges on both sides and doesn’t come to a point. On the roundscaled spearfish the top edge of pectoral fin is bowed out and rounded, but the bottom edge of the pectoral fin is more like a blue marlin and it edges back into the fish.

• South Carolina doesn’t maintain state records for roundscaled spearfish but does keep records for another member of the family. Harry Johnson of Mount Pleasant landed a 53-pound longbill spearfish in 1986. The state record blue marlin is an 881-pound, 13-ounce catch out of Charleston made by W.C. Taylor in 2005. The white marlin record is 108 pounds, caught in 1981 out of Charleston by D.C. Critz Jr. The state record sailfish is a 75-pound catch by G.A. Reid in 1968 out of Georgetown.

• Gryphon, which won the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament to open the 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Cup competition, leads the series through two tournaments with 2,450 points. Mister Pete is second with 2,050 while Anticipation is third with 1,850. Rounding out the top 10 are: Dem Boys, 1,550; Game On, 1,351; Salty Maintenance, 1,250; Rascal, 1,250; Georgetown winner Artemis, 1,225; Chasin’, 1,225; and Rare Breed, 1,063.

The next Governor’s Cup tournament is the Carolina Billfish Classic, which will be fished June 21-24 out of Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina at Patriots Point.