Some 40 summers ago, in 1964, two fishermen on a Myrtle Beach pier made angling history. One fought and beached the world record tiger shark. The other gaffed that almost one-ton shark, plus another that was, in his words, "at least a third larger."
This year's Coastal Carolina Invitational, an annual intercollegiate fishing match and seminar established in 1974, will be fished Oct. 29 in memory of Jim Michie, the man who helped make Walter Maxwell's 1,780 pound tiger shark an International Game Fish Association all-tackle record.
Michie, an archaeologist at Coastal Carolina University, died last summer at the age of 63. In 1964 he was rod builder, fighting-belt crafter, and shark fishing instructor for Maxwell who had never caught a shark before but battled two world-record fish to the Cherry Grove pier. Michie baited and gaffed both sharks, but only the smaller of the two was landed. The fete was called "Big Game Fishing's Greatest Catch" by Outdoor Life Magazine.
Sharks don't count in the college fishing match, now in its fourth decade. Student anglers from Clemson, Francis Marion, the University of South Carolina and host school Coastal will be fishing for king mackerel, amberjack, blackfish and grouper. (USC is the current defending champion.) Captain Jack Orr will be their guide on the headboat New Inlet Princess out of Captain Dick's Marina in Murrells Inlet.
In previous competitions student anglers have taken as many as 50 kings drift fishing with live cigar minnows or frozen baitfish. After the weigh-in, the fish are cleaned by students and coaches and grilled at the Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet. Prizes are donated by the tackle industry and tournament shirts by Conway National Bank. Major support for the Invitational comes from the Coastal Educational Foundation.
Coastal biology professor Richard Moore supervises the judging, as he has done every year since 1974. One point is awarded per pound of gamefish. The winning team gets an asterisk next to its name on the tournament trophy, originally donated by the South Carolina Wildlife Department in 1980. The tournament director and founder is Donald Millus, professor of English at Coastal and a noted angling author and enthusiast.