TOURNAMENT RULES & GUIDELINES
of Rules | Captain’s Meeting
It is the sole responsibility of
participating boat owners, captains, anglers, crews, and guests to know and
abide by these printed rules. Any rule changes or additions at the Captain’s
Meeting will take precedence over these printed rules.
Tournament participants enter at their own
risk. All sponsors, officials, committee
members, and all persons connected with the tournament shall be exempt from
liability for loss, damage, negligence, harm or injury suffered by participant,
entrant sport fisherman, his/her companions, boat captain, vessels and
equipment which may occur during the tournament.
Days | Times | Weather | Territories
Days: Thursday, June 22–Saturday, June 24
Boats may compete a maximum of two days. If
all three days are non-fishable then Sunday will become a fish day. One day of fishing constitutes a
tournament. Any day a participating boat
leaves the dock will be counted as a fish day unless withdrawal and/or a lay
day is reported by radio to a Committee Boat and/or contact the tournament
director by text or e-mail (843.568.5230 or email@example.com) by "lines in"
that same day.
Lay Days must be reported by 8 am on declared lay day by one of the following:
emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
submitted on the Carolina Classic app by ReelTimeApps, text Loyd at
843.568.5230, Amy at 843.209.9053, or Elizabeth at 843.494.0901.
Hours: 8 am - 3 pm each day
Overnight fishing is not permitted and no
lines or teasers in the water prior to fishing hours. No fishing before 8:00 am
or after 3:00 pm during tournament fishing days. Scanning sonars will be
allowed; however, they cannot be used prior to lines in at 8:00 am or after
lines out at 3:00 pm. All boats must
return to docks at the end of each day’s fishing hours.
5 – 7 pm each day.
Opens 8:00 am on the first eligible day of fishing and closes 7 pm on Saturday,
June 24. No exceptions
should be off plane by the time they pass Red Buoy #34 which is located about
250 yards south of Charleston Harbor Marina. Boats that do not pass red buoy
#34 by 7:00 p.m. will not be eligible to weigh their fish. GPS time will be the
Late Hook-ups & Arrivals
Boats must return to Charleston Harbor Marina
each day to weigh any fish eligible for the tournament. In the event of a hook-up prior to the close
of fishing, the fish may be fought to completion outside of tournament fishing
hours provided the Committee Boat has been notified. Any landed fish must be weighed in during scheduled
The Governor’s Cup Series
does not allow the substitution of boats; however, the Carolina Billfish
Classic will allow a substitute of a boat provided: 1) the originally
registered boat has not entered any fishing lines into the water; and 2) the
Tournament Director is notified immediately upon realizing need for change.
consideration for the safety of all participants, the CBC has adopted the use
of a posted NOAA Weather Service "Small Craft Advisory" (winds 25 -
33 knots and/or seas 6 feet or higher) to cancel that day's fishing. The tournament director or committee boat
captain will announce each day’s weather conditions by 6:00 am on VHF Channel
72. The safety of the participating vessel is ultimately the responsibility of
There are no territorial limits set for this
tournament. However, tournament boats
must return to Charleston Harbor Marina by the prescribed weigh-in hours to
have any boated fish considered for competition. Eligible fish must return on the boat on
which it was caught.
All fish must be
caught in accordance with all state and federal fishing laws, and under IGFA
Rules with the exception of passing the rod to qualify to earn SC Governor’s
Cup points / awards. In addition, every individual (age 16 and above) aboard
the vessel must have a valid official S.C Saltwater Recreational Fishing
License in their possession. After a fish strikes, the rod may be passed to one angler
one time as soon as possible. All
anglers may have the rod passed one time to them. After the rod has been passed, only the
angler is allowed to touch the rod/reel/mainline. Once the leader is brought within
the grasp of the crew member or is wound to the rod tip, then the angler may
have assistance to catch and release or boat the fish. Series points will accrue towards series
awards for these fish. Vessels may
provide assistance to other vessels for boating fish. Violation of state or federal fishing laws
will lead to disqualification of all fish caught on that fishing day, and the
day will be counted as an eligible fish day for the tournament.
fishing on a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD - is defined by NOAA as a floating
object(s) that is designed and strategically placed to attract pelagic fish)
during a series tournament is prohibited and will lead to disqualification.
Burden of proof falls upon the protesting vessel, and clear and convincing
evidence must be provided by the protesting vessel to the individual Tournament
Rules Committee. Disqualification for fishing on a FAD shall be determined by
the Tournament Rules Committee.
Any angler who has not passed his/her 16th
birthday by April 1 of the current year may fish in the Youth Angler
division. Any angler in this category is
in this category only (i.e. An Angler that is female and under sixteen
years of age on April 1 of the current tournament year is a Youth Angler,
not a Lady Angler.) It is the
responsibility of the angler to identify a catch as eligible for the Youth
angler award. This is typically done at
the time of weigh-in.
Any angler who has not passed his/her 10th
birthday by April 1 of the current year may fish in the Junior Angler
division. Junior anglers are eligible
for all other awards unless they choose not to follow IGFA rules. Those choosing not to follow IGFA rules will
only be eligible for Junior Angler awards.
Junior Anglers may be assisted as needed to boat a fish for Junior
Angler awards only.
Species | Points | Disqualifications
Eligible Billfish Species in this tournament
are Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Spearfish, and Sailfish.
Other eligible species are Dolphin, Wahoo,
and Tuna. To remain consistent with the SC Governor’s Cup Series, eligible Tuna
Species include Yellowfin, Bluefin, Blackfin, and Bigeye.
- Creel limit - 10 per angler per day with a limit of 54 per boat per
day, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches fork length
Tuna - Creel limit - 3 per angler per day with a minimum legal size of 27 inches
curved body fork length. See current federal size and creel limits for other
Wahoo - Creel limit - 2 per person per day
or creel limits will automatically be changed in SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing
Series tournaments to reflect changes in federal or state laws.
All registered boats and anglers must be in
compliance with vessel registration / documentation and with Federal (HMS
Permit) and State Regulations (saltwater fishing license) regarding
recreational fishing, as well as SC Governor’s Cup Tournament Series Fishing
Per HMS compliance guide published April
2019, anglers fishing from Atlantic HMS permitted vessels and participating in
Atlantic billfish tournaments must use only non-offset circle hooks when
deploying natural bait or natural bait/artificial lure combinations. A billfish
tournament is defined as any fishing tournament that awards points or prizes
for billfishes, even if billfishes are not the main species targeted in the
tournament. Billfish tournament anglers may deploy “J”-hooks only if they are
fishing with artificial lures.
Catch and Release
White marlin, sailfish, and spearfish are
catch and release only. Tagging is optional and not required for points.
Only blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, and
spearfish are eligible for billfish catch and release points. Billfish boated
for any reason will not qualify for release points. Scoring for billfish caught
and released in good condition is as follows:
| 600 pts | *If Landed, see below under
| 300 pts | Release Only
Spearfish | 300
Sailfish | 200
A billfish is considered caught and points
awarded when all the following have
1) the leader is grasped by
the crew or the leader is wound to the rod tip (a leader may be no longer than
2) the billfish is positively identified through
digital photography/videography (if species cannot be determined yet it is
identified as a billfish, 200 points will be awarded); and
3) the fish is released in a
healthy condition and the fish is no longer attached to the boat/line. Boats should attempt to remove the hook or to
sever the leader as close as possible to the hook.
regulation dictates: 635.21 (a) All Atlantic HMS fishing gears. (1) An Atlantic
HMS harvested from its management unit that is not retained must be released in
a manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival, but without removing
the fish from the water. (2) If a billfish is caught by a hook and not
retained, the fish must be released by cutting the line near the hook or by
using a dehooking device, in either case without removing the fish from the
Registered boats will have the option of
boating only Blue Marlin over the course of the event, providing the fish meets
or exceeds the prescribed tournament minimum length requirement (105”).
Note: 105 inches exceeds the federally
mandated minimum size limit. Should the federal size limit be increased, the
minimum size for blue marlin eligible for weighing in S.C. Governor's Cup
Series tournaments will be increased automatically to exceed the new minimum
size by two (2) inches if required.
Boats earn One Point per Pound and fraction
of a pound for their SINGLE Heaviest Blue Marlin weighed. A minimum size has
been set for Blue Marlin (105” – measured in a curved line along the body from
the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw).
A billfish may not be brought into the boat
unless it is to be brought to the dock for weigh-in. Any boated Blue Marlin
must be weighed in at Charleston Harbor Marina.
A penalty of 600 points will be assessed
against a boat for each blue marlin brought to the dock not meeting minimum SC
Governor’s Cup Series size requirements.
A penalty of 600 points will be assessed
against a boat for each billfish if it is determined that the fish was boated
and subsequently released.
Any billfish gaffed or otherwise injured in
an attempt to boat the fish will not qualify for catch and release points.
Additionally, if the gaff crosses the
vertical plane of the boat in an attempt to land a blue marlin yet it is
unsuccessful, the boat will not qualify for catch and release points.
All landed fish are to be
iced or refrigerated until such time as the edible tissue can be processed and
the carcass disposed of. Boats landing Blue Marlin will have a maximum of
three hours to complete this task after the fish is released by Series staff or
Fish must be fresh, not
frozen, fit for human consumption, not mutilated, nor its weight altered in any
manner. Hook and gaff marks are acceptable. It is the sole responsibility of
the crew to remove all hooks, lures, and leaders prior to presenting the fish
Boats found guilty of
wanton waste of fish taken will be disqualified from earning points in
will be awarded to the boat accumulating the most points during the
points are awarded at the time of release or landing (boated). Ties between points are broken by the time of
release/landing. The date of the
release/landing is based on the boat’s fishing day (Day 1 or Day 2).
Prizes will be awarded for the heaviest
eligible meat fish species measured to the nearest tenth of a pound. In the event of a meat fish tie, the winner
will be determined by the earliest weigh-in date and time.
A tournament committee boat must be notified
on the radio immediately after an angler hooks up and releases or boats a
billfish. Release and boated times will serve as a tie-breaker. The Tournament Committee Boat will
acknowledge the report over the airways and keep a log of all hook-ups, losses,
releases, and boated fish. Boats which
cannot make radio contact with the Committee Boat for any reason should contact
another boat for a relay. Radio failure
will not disqualify a participant.
(Release time will serve as a tie breaker).
VHF channel 72 shall be the primary radio
channel during this tournament. In
addition, an alternate VHF channel will be chosen at the captain's
meeting. The primary channel is to be
reserved for all official tournament announcements and angler reports of
hookups and releases and boated fish meeting minimum requirements.
For a vessel to qualify any billfish for
points, every person aboard the vessel who is 18 years of age or older, must
sign an affidavit swearing that all rules and regulations were observed in
reference to the described fish. Failure
of any person to sign the affidavit, for any reason, disqualifies that fish. To sign an affidavit under false pretenses is
an act of fraud punishable under state law.
All affidavits and photos must be
submitted and verified to DNR Staff no later than one hour after scales close
on the day the fish was caught, except when a medical emergency involving the
boat’s crew prohibits completion of the form or when a mechanically disabled
boat cannot return within the prescribed weigh-in period. In these instances,
the forms must be completed and returned within three days of the catch.
A designated DNR check station may be located
at the host marina to receive/qualify affidavits and photos/videos. If fishing out of an alternate marina (other
than the host marina), affidavits and photos/videos must be delivered to the
DNR check station, or may be submitted via email to the Governors Cup at firstname.lastname@example.org. No
call-ins or text messages will be accepted.
released billfish must be clearly digitally photographed or videoed (preferable
photo would include a visible dorsal fin) by each vessel using a digital/video
camera provided by the vessel. The image
must include a time and date stamp that corresponds to the time of release
recorded by the tournament designated committee boats. Photos/videos must be provided on a removable
storage device, and will be used to confirm species identification, release
information, and will be used to resolve conflicts or formal protests.
boat is required to keep their billfish photography available to the tournament
and DNR for up to ten days after the conclusion of the event.
| Judging | Protests
Polygraph tests will be
administered at the sole discretion of the tournament committee. Captains and
an occupant of the winning boats must be available for a polygraph test on
Saturday June 24, 2023. Refusal by any participant or occupant of a registered
boat will result in disqualification. All decisions of the polygraph examiner
Official Tournament Judges
The official tournament
judges are the Tournament Rules Committee.
Violation of the tournament rules will subject the boat and angler to
disqualification from the entire tournament without refund. The tournament director
and tournament judges, at their discretion, can enforce the rules or make
decisions on any other circumstances that may arise during the course of the
event. The tournament director and/or the tournament judge’s decisions are
during the tournament or at any function will be grounds for immediate
Only a registered
boat’s owner or captain may protest any fish entered in the
tournament. All protests must be submitted in writing to the
Tournament Director on the day of the protested catch no later than one hour
after scales close. The Tournament Director will convene the
official Tournament Rules Committee to consider the protest. The ruling of this
Committee is final. All protests must be accompanied by a nonrefundable
cash fee of $1,000. The individual(s) who submit any protest must provide
indisputable evidence to prove the infraction.