The James Joyce II fishing team caught and released two blue marlin Saturday to win the 12th annual Keli Wagner Lady Big Rock tournament in poetic fashion.
The James Joyce II crew hooked up to their first blue marlin at 9:16 a.m. and took the lead for good when angler Joyce Tipton registered a release 44 minutes later. Chelsey Williams was in the chair for the teams second blue marlin. It hit the bait at 11:52 a.m. and was released after a 24-minute fight.
The James Joyce II team caught and released 2-of-4 the blue marlin hooked up during the six-hour competition to capture the $6,481.25 first prize. They edged the Jim Dandy team that released one blue marlin at 10:11 a.m. after a six-minute fight. A blue marlin hooked by the Fin Addict team died during its fight and was brought to the scales so allow tournament researches to examine the catch.
Troy Pate, Durham, who captained of the James Joyce II indicated both fish would have been prospects for the Big Rock leader board if they had been hooked up Monday when the big-money, six-day competition begins.
Sixty-one boats signed up to take part in the one-day, release-only ladies competition. Another 29 “non-fishing” teams made a $250 charitable donation to honor Wagner’s memory. The combined efforts of the competitors and the land-locked teams guaranteed that the 12th annual event would raise $23,012.80 to support the Raab Oncology Center at Carteret General Hospital. Last year, $16,250 was raised to support that facility.
“The wind turned just in time and the ladies had a pretty day offshore,” said Big Rock board member Randy Ramsey, who monitored the Keli Wagner competition by radio. “I think we’re going to have some good fishing in the days ahead.”
And there was plenty of good fishing Saturday afternoon. Two dozen lady angler teams eventually showed up at the weigh station hoping for a share of the $6,481.25 gamefish purse.
The Tortuga team, captained by James Rosemond, Durham, grabbed the wahoo prize with a 16.2 pounder reeled in by Diane Filer of Cary.
The tuna prize was claimed by Big OH, captained by Ronnie Fields of Jupiter, FL, when angler Olivia Ingram brought a 61.55-pounder to the scales.
The dolphin prize went to the Fight-N-Lady team, captained by Shane Bradford out of Morehead City. Fight-N-Lady angler Lori Seawell of Greensboro reeled in a 24.5-pounder that edged the Gypsy Angler’s dolphin catch by 6/100ths of a pound.
The Crystal Coast Civic Center will be packed tonight for the 51st annual Big Rock Captain’s Party. Competitors will discuss the outstanding day that the ladies experienced and try to figure out where the James Joyce II was having so much luck.
Competition in the 51th Big Rock starts Monday at 9 a.m. Competitors on each boat fish 4-of-6 days and receive their winnings June 13th at the Big Rock awards ceremony. So far, 137 boats have signed up to take part in the competition that last year doled out more than $1.8 million in cash prizes.