Tournament – Big Rock
Craziness became commonplace at the 60th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament as a record seven blue marlin were weighed in Saturday to complicate the distribution of a record $2,560,925 purse during the competition’s final day.
In the end, Honey Hush, captained by Chuck Lindner of Morehead City, held on to take first place and win $753,875 with a 518.5 lb. blue marlin reeled in by angler Robert Gorrell. Honey Hush grabbed the tournament lead Tuesday and managed to win by a very narrow margin. It was part of what made the contest so crazy.
The three fish that finished atop the blue marlin standings were separated by 17.6 pounds. The difference between first and second place was just 4.2 pounds. At one point third place was decided by a tenth of a pound.
That’s crazy … and it got crazier.
Carterican captain Lee Smith, of Morehead City, brought a 500.9 lb. blue marlin to the scales midway through the Saturday weigh-ins. The catch, landed by angler Cole Ammons of Cedar Point, qualified – by less than a pound – for the Level V Fabulous Fishermen prize of $501,500.
But the Carterican team couldn’t celebrate.
That’s because the Islander was still headed to the scales with a blue marlin that was boated before the Carterican’s catch. By rule, since the Islander boated its blue marlin first, its catch would count first. Carterican would have to wait for the Islander to weigh its blue marlin.
But the Islander wasn’t really the Islander.
Islander captain Bobby Schlegel, of Greenville, had busted a propeller Friday and needed to borrow another boat to be able to finish the Big Rock. Schlegel borrowed Hatteras Fever and made the most of it.
Schlegel’s team released a blue marlin early Saturday and won $48,520 for scoring the most release points that day. Then they landed a 429.2-pound blue marlin that was good enough – at the time – for third place in the standings.
This may be the first time in Big Rock history that a borrowed boat helped an opposing team win this much prize money.
The crazy thing is this: The distribution of Big Rock’s record $2,560,925 purse looked somewhat set Saturday morning before lines went in the water. No blue marlins had been boated Wednesday or Thursday and the lone blue marlin catch Friday did not meet tournament minimums.
Then came 11:00 a.m. on the final day and a switch seemed to flip. Five blue marlins were boated in 44 minutes and two more were landed before the fishing day was through. Up to that point, only four blue marlins had been boated.
VooDoo Child, captained by Zack Adams of Morehead City, brought a 409.1 lb. blue marlin to the scales Saturday that was reeled in by Steve Tingley, of Youngsville. It moved into third place for 59 minutes but got bumped out of the standings when Carterican reached the scales. Two other Saturday blue marlin catches did not meet tournament minimums.
The final weigh-in of the 60th Big Rock put the standings in concrete. Fender Bender captain Carl Beale, of Virginia Beach, brought a 514.3 lb. blue marlin to the scales that was reeled in by Havelock angler Col. T.J. “Bucket” Dunne. Dunne’s catch missed winning the Big Rock by 4.2 pounds, but it earned the team $262,450 for finishing in the runner-up spot.
Carterican finished third but won $634,000. This included the $501,500 Fabulous Fishermen prize and a Gregory Poole $5,000 first-release-of-the-day prize.