This morning as the final day of the 52nd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament got underway, 119-of-156 boats in the competition still have a chance to affect the final standings.
Since 37 boats are fished out, some of our current leaders must wait at the docks to see if their leads can stand up one more day. Many divisional leads were tenuous as the final six hours of fishing began.
The billfish release division has the possibility of a shoot-out since many boats are just one blue marlin hook-up from the top spot. The Miss Judy, captained by Lacy Henry of Atlantic Beach, still holds the billfish release division lead with two blue marlin releases Tuesday. The Miss Judy crew elected to fish their final day of the competition Friday but did not add to their lead.
Sweet Deal, captained by Oliver Burwell of John Island, S.C., took over second place in the billfish release division with two blue marlin releases Friday. The Sweet Deal has Saturday to fish and needs just one more billfish release to take over the top spot.
The 52nd release was made Friday awarding Sweet Deal and angler Wade Bodsford of John Island, S.C. a $5,200 prize.
Citation, a boat captained by Eric Holmes of Buxton, has held first place in the blue marlin division since Monday with the tournament-record 883-pounder. The Citation crew received a $318,750 check for catching the first blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds and is in position to receive $912,825 from the tournament’s $1.66 million purse.
Second place in the blue marlin division is held by Carnivore, which landed a 528.3-pounder Wednesday. The Carnivore, captained by Ed Petrilli of Cape Carteret, would be in position to receive $217,570 if it finishes in the runner-up spot.
Landing on the leaderboard Friday was Wet-N-Wild, a boat captained by Tony Ross of Beaufort. The Wet-N-Wild crew took over third place when they arrived at the scales with a 460-pound blue marlin reeled in by Joseph Engleby of Nazareth, Pa. Ross, who grew up in the Big Rock’s backyard always dreamed of fishing in this event. Now he has the Wet-N-Wild team in position to win $144,380.
All three blue marlins on the leaderboard were reeled in by anglers who had never caught a blue marlin before. It’s believed to be the first time in Big Rock history that blue marlin rookies are in position to sweep the top prizes.
The Wet-N-Wild also took over the lead in the tuna division with a 62.8-pounder reeled in by Lyn Moore of Mt. Vernon, N.Y. This catch would be worth an additional $6,077 for the Wet-N-Wild team if it stays in the lead one more day.
Sea Creature, captained by Steve “Creature” Coulter of Hatteras, has held the lead in the winner-take-all dolphin division since Monday. Sea Creature angler John Manousaridis of Atlantic Beach reeled in a 52.4-pounder that’s currently worth $103,990.42.
Angler Hunter King of Raleigh currently leads the wahoo division, reeling in a 61.8-pounder Thursday. Hunter was fishing aboard Big Hunter, captained by Ken Lohr of Morehead City. Lohr and crew are currently in position to win the $6,077 for their catch.
The 52nd Big Rock will conclude at 2 p.m. Anglers who are still hooked to billfish at that time will be allowed to fight their fish until a conclusion is reached. An awards banquet is set after all weigh-ins at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, Morehead City.