The 64th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament wrapped up six days of offshore fishing June 18 of out Morehead City, North Carolina, with a banner number of boats, anglers and huge fish caught.
The tournament winning boat “Mercenaria,” a 72-foot Viking from Virginia Beach captained by Neil Sykes, caught a heavyweight 572.6-pound blue marlin on June 13, the first day of the six-day tournament. It would be the largest blue caught during the event, with anglers eligible to fish for four of the six days.
A Record Purse
According to the tournament website, 266 boats competed for a record-breaking purse of $5,858,875. The crew of the “Mercenaria” claimed the top prize of $3,489,813 with their 572-pound marlin.
The final day of the tourney was June 18, and anglers catching their fish earlier in the event had to wait to learn if their heavyweight fish would hold up during the event to win top prizes.
“It was a very long five days,” Sykes, 41, told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in a telephone interview from offshore. “I made a joke that there are 250 boats out here full of high hopes and we’re the only boat out here terrified. It worked out, and we’re all really happy.”
Bevy of Big Blues
Only 36 pounds separated the three top marlin weighed during the event, all of which weighed over 500 pounds. Anger Matt Brown from Cape Charles, Virginia was the man on the rod on the “Mercenaria” who caught the top marlin that weighed 572.6-pound, a winning fish worth nearly $3.5 million.
“It jumped quite a bit and then went really deep,” Brown, 38, reported to the Pilot newspaper. “When it came to the side of the boat, we knew we were going to weigh it. I thought it was a pretty nice fish, but I haven’t caught a lot of blue marlin. They look tremendous.”
Angler Stacy Allen caught a 556.4-pound blue marlin during the first day of the event aboard the North Carolina boat “The Wall Hanger” to claim the tournament’s second place, winning $426,288.
Third place blue marlin also was caught the first day of the event by anglers on the boat “High Yield” out of Charleston. That fish weighed 536.8-pounds and won $283,525.
Other Notable Prizes
Boats in the event fished in 10 different categories offering nearly $6 million in prize money, with entry fees ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
In addition to marlin—of which many were released, including some whites—plenty of other huge pelagic species were caught, and collected top money, too. Among them were sailfish, dolphin, tuna and wahoo.
A 54.1-pound bull dolphin was caught by the “Carolina Time” to win $527,000. A 104.7-pound wahoo caught by the crew of the “Speculator’s” also collected $5,000. And another $5,000 went to the “Desperado” boat for landing a 131.2-pound tuna.