The 54th Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament fell just short of the record books this past Memorial Day Weekend. With 70 boats fishing the tournament this year, it’s the greatest fleet Georgetown Landing Marina has seen since 2000, a year that hosted 72 crews.
While the bite wasn’t as hot as it’s been in previous years (15 blue marlin, 1 white marlin, and 8 sailfish releases and 3 blue marlin landed) a select group of boats were able to capitalize on the blue marlin heading north. One of those boats is no stranger to the leaderboard. In fact, we’d rank that boat’s captain right alongside some of the greatest in South Carolina, like Capt. Bobby Garmany and Capt. Mike Glaesner.
Such a comparison will likely make him a bit uncomfortable. We can picture the 45-year-old shaking his head in bashful disagreement now. But when it comes to competition in South Carolina, Capt. Jay Weaver is consistently somewhere at the top.
Weaver is known for being a fierce competitor wherever he fishes. He takes his job aboard Greg Smith’s 60-ft Spencer Blue Sky seriously and wants to perform his best every time he’s on the water, a commendable trait. But he’s also happy to have a good time at the close of a fishing day, surrounded by longtime friends, his wife Kelly and their young son Quinn.
The Blue Sky is the kind of program that celebrates family and friendship during every tournament. Walk by the cockpit at tournament time and the boat is spilling over with the crew and their families, usually along with a spread of drinks and food. But don’t be fooled. These anglers play to win too.
This past tournament was no different for the Blue Sky team. They had assembled a huge crew to fish the event and kick off the season. Owner Greg Smith, mate Donnie Todd, mate Matt Murphy, Andy Peace, Scooter Harmon, Baker Dawson, Dan Webster, Harry Oxner, Clay Livingston and Ben Polk joined Capt. Jay Weaver as they left the docks of Georgetown Landing Marina for the first tournament of the 2022 Series.
Based on past performances, these men work extremely well together. Weaver doesn’t chalk up this success to any sort of magic recipe. But there are some key ingredients to building a program like this, and he credits much of that to his hardworking mates and the all-in attitude of Greg Smith.
“Matt and Donnie work really hard before, during and after fishing. You don’t see them out drinking late on the docks when we’re fishing the next day. They’re in the cockpit getting things ready hours before most people arrive at the marina in the mornings,” says Weaver. “The guys have a lot of respect for Donnie and Matt, which makes it easier for them to run the cockpit and tell a bunch of people who aren’t used to getting told what to do, what to do. Also, Greg puts together the team and gives us anything we think we need to make the boat or team better.”
When fishing is tough, it’s an extra comfort to have reliable talent in the cockpit. “All of our anglers are very good at what they do in their professional lives and they bring that same intensity and intelligence to the cockpit,” says Weaver. “We fish with a big crowd so the guys can get a break every now and then, and I think that helps them stay more focused when they’re holding a rod.”
Regardless of the caliber of crew, sometimes fish don’t cooperate or things simply don’t go as planned. When the Blue Sky saw their first blue marlin of the tournament, they didn’t get the start they had wanted.
“We missed the first blue marlin that we saw on Thursday,” recalls Weaver. “It started on the chain but ended up eating a lure and coming off pretty quickly.”
But even with a shakier start to the day, Weaver remained collected and put his crew back on the fish immediately. “We circled back through a few times and had a bigger fish show up on the left long,” says Weaver. “Dan was holding the rod and did a great job hooking it. The fish cooperated, put on a fun fight and was eventually released.”
As the day went on, several boats had reported blue marlin releases. By late morning, Frequent Flyer released a sail in addition to their blue marlin, bringing their total for the day to 800 points. Blue Sky would need another fish to catch up to them. As the crew dealt with releasing some dolphin, two sails suddenly rushed into the spread.
“Scooter hooked one of the sails in the double that came in,” recalls Weaver. “The other sail came off and tangled in his mainline for a little while, which confused the hell out of all of us!”
The crew gladly added a sailfish release to the board and finished the day in second place based on time. They would have to wait for Saturday to get another shot at taking the lead.
On Saturday morning, Weaver battled gut-wrenching self doubt, something all captains seem to contend with during tournament season.
“It was cloudy and we were in dirty looking water that was grassy and cold,” he recalls. “I was regretting my decision to run north when the lure came down and a blue came up jumping.”
Andy Peace battled the estimated 80-lb fish and got the release, effectively launching the Blue Sky to the top of the leaderboard.
“The boat felt a little more relaxed after we took the lead Saturday morning,” says Weaver. “But we knew it could change at any moment, so it didn’t mean too much yet.”
Later that day, Weaver marked another blue marlin. Dan Webster hooked the fish off the teaser chain and released it quickly. It was again a small fish, estimated to weigh around 80 lbs.
“The fish at the end of the day Saturday made us feel pretty confident, but even then we waited until 3 PM before we celebrated too much,” says Weaver.
As lines came out of the water, the Blue Sky had amassed a total of 2000 points, a solid 900 points ahead of the next highest scoring boat. They had won the 54th Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish release, an impressive feat in tough fishing.
For Weaver, this was a monumental occasion. He’s been fishing professionally for 25 years and has grown up right along the shores of Georgetown’s coast. Throughout those years, an overall win in Georgetown eluded him. But this May, those clouds finally cleared for the talented captain and the Blue Sky clinched the win.
“It felt great to win Georgetown, especially with Greg and this group of guys,” Weaver explains. “All of us live right here and have been around the tournament since we were kids, so it seemed to mean a lot to everyone. Matt recently won it and Andy and Harry have both won it twice, but none of the rest of us had. I’d had a few seconds and a third place finish, but I never could put a win together. So, on a selfish note, it felt particularly good to me!”
Congratulations to Capt. Jay Weaver, Greg Smith, and the Blue Sky team on a hard fought win in Georgetown! Good luck during the Big Rock Tournament as you pursue big money and big blues.
We’ll see you back here June 22nd-25th for the Carolina Billfish Classic at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina! We have no doubts that the Blue Sky will come ready to defend their current lead in the 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.
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