MOREHEAD CITY — The 2020 N.C. Governor’s Cup Conservation Series is closing in on the end of another season, with Sea I Sea of Morehead City currently in the lead.
The Don Mills-captained boat has 3,075 points to lead a field of 34 entrants in the competition, which consists of eight billfish tournaments over four months between May and August.
Sea I Sea won the Swansboro Rotary Bluewater Memorial Day Tournament and placed second in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. After the “Band the Billfish” Tournament, Sea I Sea will participate in the Governor’s Cup’s final competition, the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament.
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament and Hatteras Grand Slam Tournament were all canceled due to weather issues or COVID-19 concerns.
The General of Morehead City, captained by Wade Fickling, is in second place with 2,100 points, and First Look of Atlantic Beach, captained by Alan Scibal, is in third with 1,475 points.
Currently, the largest dolphin is a 44.9-pounder reeled in by Sea I Sea at the Swansboro Rotary Tournament. C-Escape leads the wahoo division with a 75.2-pounder caught during Big Rock, while no tuna have been weighed in any tournaments this summer.
Will Hanley of The General leads the junior boy angler division with the release of two sailfish, while Sarah Dyer of Bill Collector leads the girl division with the release of blue marlin.
Shelley Smith of Triple S leads the lady angler division with the release of one blue marlin and one white marlin.
The weightiest blue marlin has been a 535.4-pound fish reeled in by Inspiration and Capt. Casey Wagner.
There have been 68 billfish releases, including 36 blue marlin, 25 sailfish and seven white marlin. There have been 72 total billfish entered, giving this year’s Governor’s Cup a current release rate of 94 percent.
The series is managed by the Division of Marine Fisheries to promote conservation, protection and preservation of marine resources. Participating boats or teams are awarded series points for billfish caught and released and for billfish taken which meet tournament minimum size requirements. Penalty points are assessed for undersized fish taken, with the emphasis being on fish released.
Trophies are awarded to boats with the most points in both the Private Boat and Charter Boat categories. Individual awards are given to the outstanding junior boy, outstanding junior girl and lady anglers. In addition, trophies are awarded for the largest blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin.