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Kings rule in Coastal Invitational fishing match

November 12, 2007

The nation's oldest collegiate fishing match, the Coastal Carolina Invitational, was fished out of Captain Dick's Marina in Murrells Inlet, delayed two weeks by gale force winds. Collegiate anglers from Clemson, the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina waited out the bad weather and took 39 kings in the one-day match. The catch of kings was their best in this century.

This was the 34th renewal of the event and it turned out to one of the easiest days of fishing in a match that has brought schools from the Ivy League, Canada and Japan to fish competitively with Carolina schools on the South Carolina coast.

Fishing some 24 miles south of Murrells Inlet on the Upchurch Reef, the anglers found both live bait-cigar minnows-and kings ready to feed. The very first drift on the "New Inlet Princess," captained by Jack Orr, took five kings and a 30-pound amberjack. Bonito and sharks were also caught. Orr had originally planned to stop at Upchurch just to catch bait, but "you don't leave fish to find fish" was the rule of a magnificent day with just enough breeze for a good drift.

The match was won by the Coastal Carolina "A" team, coached by Erin Burge of the Marine Science department, which edged defending champion USC by four points, 100 to 96. (Points are awarded per pound of fish, sharks excluded.)

In third place with 70 points was an undermanned Clemson squad with only two anglers that still managed to boat eight kings.The Coastal "B" squad lived up to its name by finishing last with 44 points. Jerry Hilbish coached the Gamecock squad; Captain Ryan Powers, a Coastal alumnus, coached the Chanticleer "B" squad; and tournament director Don Millus filled in as Clemson coach.

All the student anglers caught kings, five of them for the first time. Richard Moore, the Invitational judge since its inception, caught the largest king which was served at the awards banquet, with six other kings, at the Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet.

Individual honors went to Daniel Hanks of Clemson for an 8-pound, 8-ounce king and Coastal's Craig O'Connell with a 1-pound, 9-ounce black seabass. Prizes included gift certificates from Boaters World, a Shakespeare spinning outfit donated by Joey Sanders, six Buck knives and anglers' tools, and tackle boxes from Plano.

Tournament shirts were donated by Conway National Bank, thanks to the good offices of Mitch Godwin. Each student angler received boxes of hooks donated by Eagle Claw, Daichi and spools of line from Ande Line.

The event is held annually on the last Friday of October, weather permitting.