Many things were different for this year’s Carolina Billfish Classic. But even amid the unprecedented weirdness of 2020, one important thing remained true come tournament time. Much like the interlacing roots of a Lowcountry Live Oak, a tangible camaraderie is woven into the very fabric of who we are as a billfishing community. Fortunately, distance has done little to affect that.
That camaraderie is never more evident than when celebrating youth anglers. South Carolina boasts considerable sport fishing talent, especially among its young people. Although the top youth angler at this year’s Carolina Billfish Classic is only 11-years-old, he already has about a decade’s worth of fishing experience under his belt. Woods Herring, a shy kid with a cheerful grin, fishes aboard the Glazed, his father’s 58-ft Dean Johnson. Woods said, “It’s always fun to fish with my dad and good friends.”
His father, Miles Herring, both the owner and captain of the Glazed, often runs to the Gulf Stream with a crowd of freckle-faced kids, salt-bit teenagers, and seasoned family and friends. The crew that fished the Glazed during the Carolina Billfish Classic met those critera. When the team raised a hungry sail during the tournament, Woods quickly got ready to get to work. He jumped into the fighting chair, took the rod, and reeled hard while watching the fish jump clean of the horizon.
It turns out that seeing those fervent leaps is what Woods enjoys most about catching billfish. He said, “It’s cool to see one when it jumps!” We think it’s fair to say that we all think that’s one of the coolest things to witness on the water. It’s an experience that can immediately change the trajectory of a person’s life. Many mates, captains, and owners can attest to that.
While the fish flipped and thrashed and leapt from the waves, Woods fought it quickly, gaining line and wrangling the sailfish to the transom of the boat in just three short minutes. Woods’ father stood by to grab the leader, completing the release with his son. Recalling the moment, Woods said, “I was happy and hoping it would win for us!” He didn’t know it at the time, but that sailfish would be enough to clinch the lead of the Youth Angler Category and hold it through to the end of the tournament. Other youth anglers aboard the Man Cave and Tighten Up released sailfish as well, but Woods earned first place based on time.
Huge congratulations go to Woods on his stellar performance to capture the Outstanding Youth Angler Award during the Carolina Billfish Classic. We’re bummed we weren’t able to celebrate more formally during an Award’s Reception, but we have no doubts that your crew of family and friends, as well as your neighbors on the dock, offered up many congratulations. He turns 12 next week, so join us in wishing Woods a very happy birthday! We look forward to seeing him back at it next year during the 2021 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
The Teaser is a series dedicated to showcasing the stories of the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series and its lively community. The Gov Cup was created several decades ago to encourage the conservation of ocean resources through the tagging and release of billfish. Learn more here.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.