The last catch of the day won the 31st annual college saltwater fishing tournament for host school Coastal Carolina University this past weekend. Chanticleer football team wide receiver Daryl Davis battled a 30-pound amberjack to the New Inlet Princess late Friday to give the Coastal saltwater fishing team a narrow victory over Francis Marion University, 90 to 85.
The University of South Carolina, the defending champion, saw its string of four consecutive national fishing titles broken, but finished a strong third with 73 points over Clemson, which had to fish a man short, finishing with 38 points.
Student anglers boated 23 king mackerel, plus a 28.3-pound cobia by Francis Marions Ben Ward, which looked like the catch of the day until Daviss last-minute Hail Mary. Davis was a last-minute addition to the Chanticleer roster, but was given permission to travel late to the Chants football game with Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
Mike Erwin of USC had the largest grouper of the day, a 12.4-pound gag. Biggest king by a student angler was a 13.8 pounder caught on a drift line by Erwin, while his teammate Wes Johnson had the largest blackfish, a two-pounder.
Traditionally, the top prizes in the tournament go to the largest king and blackfish, but all fish except sharks count toward the championship. Another tradition of the Coastal Carolina Invitational is that all the participating teams have their schools names engraved on the permanent trophy donated by the South Carolina Department of Wildlife and Natural Resources, but the winning team gets an asterisk next to its name.
Capt. Jack Orr of Captain Dicks Marina in Murrells Inlet was again guide and skipper for the college anglers who have fished every fall since 1974 in what has become the oldest college fishing match in the United States. Joey Sanders, a Coastal alumnus, coached the Chanticleer team. Richard Moore of CCU was judge and weigh master as he has been every year since the tournaments inception in 1974.
Major sponsor was the Coastal Carolina Educational Foundation, with prizes donated by Conway National Bank, Bass Pro Shops, and numerous tackle manufacturers. The Hot Fish Club of Murrells Inlet prepares the blackfish fillets fried for the first course of the awards banquet with grilled and broiled king mackerel steaks for the main course following the long day of fishing.
This years Invitational was fished in memory of CCU archeologist Jim Michie, who passed away this year. Michie gaffed two world record tiger sharks from a Myrtle Beach pier in one weekend in June of 1964. The second of those fish, a 1,780-pound tiger shark, still stands as a world all-tackle record.