Graham Eubank, owner of the Sportin’ Life, shared this incredible account of landing a 445.3 lb blue marlin during the 53rd Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. Catch all the details by reading Graham’s take from that memorable day and expect to get fired up for the Carolina Billfish Classic this week!
After a fairly slow early morning for the fleet, we could hear the billfish bite start to heat up mid-morning over the radio. Blue marlin were starting to be seen, caught, and released by other teams, and many of those boats were right nearby fishing the same waters we were. Capt. Mike had decided to run down to the south to fish some pretty blue water he had seen pushing up off of Charleston. We had been running our normal blue marlin spread that morning, but our team had made a decision earlier in the week to put out a couple more artificial lures simply because we knew we would need at least 3-4 blue marlin releases to win the tournament and that there were more blue marlin around. Throughout the morning we continuously were changing out baits, lures, and chains working to get a billfish bite. One thing about Capt Mike and our crew is that we don’t sit still, nor are we afraid to try new colors, new lures, or new teasers.
Right around high noon, the left short rigger came down and the reel began to scream. All we had seen was a big hole in the water. We all knew it was a nice fish but it wasn’t until she began to greyhound did we know what we had. We all shouted “blue marlin” and our team went into action. From what we all could tell from her initial jumps way back in our spread, this fish was going to be close to being a legal kill fish. I quickly moved the rod out of the gunwale and got into the fighting chair, keeping the line tight while the rest of the crew cleared all of the other lines, teasers, and dredges. Capt. Mike began to maneuver the boat, keeping her in perfect position.
The first 15 minutes of the fight all was going very smoothly. Our crew sprung into action. Lines were cleared, rods were stowed out of the way, flyers were loaded in case of a kill, and I was strapped in the fighting chair with a nice blue marlin. After just another few minutes into the fight we had her close – yes, within just 15-20 minutes into the fight. The leader had just come out of the water a few times –she was right there. I was able to get a couple more cranks to where mate Elliott Curry could grab the leader.
That’s about the time all hell broke loose. Elliott took a couple wraps but knew the fish was still green. He had to let go. We got her up again and he grabbed the leader again. This time, she went to breaching right behind the boat. He had to let go again. This was the first time we had really gotten a good look at her. That is right about the time Capt. Mike yelled, “that’s a no brainer there, that’s a no brainer, get the gaff!” At that point, we all knew that if we could somehow land this fish, she was coming with us for our ride back to Georgetown!
Shortly after seeing her jumping right behind the boat, like some blue marlin do when using heavy tackle, she went down and stayed down. I felt as helpless as an angler could feel as the line continued to peel off the reel. At one point she stopped, and with Capt. Mike’s help of maneuvering the boat, she slowed up and I began to gain some line. We changed angles multiple times and I adjusted the drag on the reel. We were doing all we could to get her up. We didn’t want her to get comfortable. It was back and forth and back and forth for the next 2 hours – gaining line then losing line – a stalemate. This was by far the toughest fight I had ever had in my 38 years of fishing off the coast of South Carolina.
When we finally saw her again, she had given all she had. She came up, Elliott grabbed the leader and brought her towards the transom and starboard corner. Mate Boyce Campsen sunk the first flyer and then son Gray sunk the second – we had her secured. With the help of our long time fishing friends, Jimmy Lucas who also worked the chair for me, and Dixon Pearce, we were able to get the transom door open. Elliott, Boyce, and Gray guided her bill-first through the door.
At that point, we all went crazy while Capt Mike yelled from the bridge “that’s a nice one boys and girls!” Hugs of jubilation all around. I was somehow able to get unstrapped and fell to the cockpit floor dead tired, but incredibly overwhelmed with joy. There is no feeling like it – a sense of accomplishment on what you set out to do.
There is also nothing like the ride back to Georgetown with a blue marlin laying in the cockpit. During the ride, I kept looking to the back of the boat to make sure the fish was still there and that I wasn’t dreaming or just seeing things from the celebratory Natty Light and Fireball I had consumed.
Pulling up to Georgetown for a weigh-in is something I will never forget. They always draw a great crowd and put on the best show. I also can’t say enough about Ed Keelin and his crew. They were so helpful assisting us in getting our blue marlin offloaded and up to the scales to be weighed.
While fishing Sportin’ Life, we have been fortunate to land other winning blue marlin at Georgetown, (Dixon Pearce 532lb.– 2013, Jimmy Lucas 448lb. – 2014). This one may have been the most special for me with having my son Gray on board. It was certainly an experience we will never forget. I told him, “you get the next one!” It was also special in that Gray had one of his roommates from college, George Gore, on board that day.
Of course, our crew of Capt. Mike Glaesner, mates Elliott Curry and Boyce Campsen, and Jimmy Lucas and Dixon Pearce always make a day like this even more special. We have been fortunate to keep our same crew together for years.
I am truly grateful to get to land a blue marlin at Georgetown with the finest captain and crew, who also happen to be great friends and part of our family!
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.