Edisto has hosted the inaugural Governor's Cup Billfishing event for 21 consecutive years, and the 2009 tournament has a shot at being the best ever. The Wednesday night Captain's meeting was held during overcast and windy conditions, and most sportfishers were planning a "lay day" on Thursday. Edisto Marina owner Buddy Smith was on hand to greet all the anglers, and the Smith family made it a family affair with daughter Becca as the tournament organizer and son Elliott the t-shirt artist. Governor's Cup Board Chairman Graham Eubanks and father Manley were amongst the crowd of familiar faces that were eager to commence the twenty-first Governor's Cup Billfish Series. SCDNR Gov. Cup Director Wally Jenkins told the anglers to make sure they have their permits and licenses in order because each boat can expect to be checked by "the guys with guns" - specifically SCDNR officers Willie LaDue and Greg Brown. Pete Loy fishing on Lil Bit and Ollie Burwell fishing on Sweet Deal, both from Charleston, mixed with the crowd of locals from Edisto that included the town mayor, Burly Lyons. Mayor Lyons wished the anglers good luck, and told them to have fun. The invocation for the evening meal, catered by Buist Rivers and Lowcountry Eats, included a blessing of the fleet and gave thanks for the opportunity to fish the Governor's Cup. Rules Committee Chairman Calvert Huffines gave a lengthy talk about what constitutes a legal to keep blue marlin, one that is 110-inches long or better, and what defines a youth or Jr. Angler. Huffines also defined how the Edisto Tournament will handle small craft advisories - waiting until 6 a.m. to make a decision about canceling a day of fishing - and using 71 as the official radio channel. A fleet of twenty-seven boats will compete in the Edisto tournament fishing two out of three days for Series points, daily cash prizes and bragging rights.
Photos By Jeff Dennis: SCDNR Governor's Cup employees Elizabeth Miller, Amy Dukes and Wally Jenkins; Law enforcement officers Willie LaDue and Greg Brown discuss the no-wake zone Captain Bob of FishingwithBob.com; Mr. and Mrs. Calvert Huffines keep their sailboat Combahee Lady at the Edisto marina, Buddy Smith and Becca Smith enjoy the moment at the Captain's meeting, The 2009 tournament logo by Elliot Smith