Much like Olympic athletes, sport fishing teams are quite familiar with the sting of a close finish. Those who tie for points but come in second place by minutes know the feeling well. But that’s sports. You win some and you lose some. It’s an old trope, but it’s a true one.
Home Run, a 60-ft Spencer owned by Steve Mungo and captained by Grant Bentley, is often at or near the top, whether at individual tournaments or in overall Series points. They too have had their share of near victories in recent years, with various ties and other close calls. That said, the fates would favor them in time for Edisto.
The Home Run is a family. If you pop by the boat, you might even hear some occasional bickering as grown men pick at each other like teenaged boys. That’s to be expected when you’ve fished with the same crew consistently for years. There’s a lot of love there, even amid the playful jabs.
During the Gov Cup, the Home Run typically has a stacked deck of the usual suspects. They each bring something different to the operation. Steve is genuine, kind, funny, and committed. Charles Rooke and Jeremy Altman are both powerhouse anglers with a shameless but sidesplitting sense of humor. Although Captain Grant “Grumpy Grant” Bentley comes by his moniker honestly, he happens to be an exceptionally talented fisherman who can be the life of the party too. And when Hope Bentley fishes with the crew, it would be wise for blue marlin to steer clear of the lines. She’s been a proven dominant angler for decades in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Isael Martinez, the mate aboard the Home Run, is the critical glue holding everything together in the cockpit. He’s a warm, easygoing, and hardworking man.
During last month’s Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, the Home Run competed against 39 other highly competitive boats. Steve, Grant, Charles, Jeremy, Isael, and Matt Bolton left the Marina at Edisto Beach on that first day of fishing ready to take the win. By 9:45 AM, they were already in great position. The Home Run had released two sailfish and a blue marlin, accruing a total of 1000 points. By the end of the first day of fishing, they were sitting nicely atop the fleet.
The next day, a handful of fish were caught in the morning, but the Home Run had yet to get points on the board. By the afternoon, the bite turned on and numerous releases rolled in all at once. Amidst those reports of various released sailfish, the Home Run hooked up with another blue marlin. They successfully released the fish and catapulted even further ahead of the fleet.
Weather forecasts hadn’t looked good for the last day of fishing in the tournament, so most of the fleet was fished out by then, including the Home Run. As the few remaining boats fished on Saturday, a touch of anxiety and paranoia plagued the Home Run crew. “We were jacked up going into the last day,“ Isael recalled. “Even though we felt like we had a good lead, we weren’t going to get too confident yet.”
To curb the nerves, the Home Run crew kept busy that day, doing well to steer clear of the fishing reports slowly rolling in. “Back on the dock we put in a typical work day, trying to keep our minds off the time. We also had time to catch up on good conversation and fellowship,” said Isael. “By 3 PM, we were all relieved from the anxiety of waiting on lines to come out of the water!”
Hours after those last lines of the tournament were reeled in, the Home Run team finally celebrated their victory. At the Awards Reception, Steve Mungo went on to generously donate a portion of the winnings to the ongoing effort to purchase the M/V Coastal Venture, a 247-ft vessel, so that it can be added to the South Carolina Memorial Reef. Numerous others in the community have also contributed. Thank you to each and every one of you for your steadfast support. We’re getting closer to our goal, but we need your help in spreading the word. Please share information about this effort with others you think would also like to be part of this important moment in our history.
Thanks for a great tournament and a great season, and congratulations to the Home Run on closing it out right!
We’ll share news of Series winners once everything is official. Stay tuned!
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.