As the tournament enters its third day, it’s hard to predict what Wednesday will bring. Conditions are not expected to change until Thursday and most competitors have opted to take a lay day, with 69 boats fishing.
Big Rock competitors had high hopes for a great day Tuesday after Citation set a new Big Rock record with an 883-pound blue marlin caught late Monday by Andy Thomasson of Richmond, Va. Those hopes were dashed by the end of the day when 103-of-156 teams that fished had 11 hook-ups and seven releases.
Some are blaming the warmer-than-normal temperatures for the downturn in billfish activity; others have faulted East winds and a high-pressure system sitting offshore. The culprit may be a combination of both and Big Rock fishing teams must factor this in as they plan their final four days of fishing.
“It’s hard to figure,” said Big Rock president Randy Ramsey when asked about the billfishing lull. “The dolphin fishing has been great ... everyone has been commenting on that. The billfishing was great heading into this week. All I can say is I expected a real good week of fishing based on what led up to this week. So I’m surprised ... real surprised.”
One boat that had an outstanding Tuesday was the Miss Judy, captained by Lacy Henry of Atlantic Beach. Henry’s crew released the only blue marlins of the day and not only won the $7,732 daily release prize but took over first place in the billfish release division as well. If the Miss Judy team can hang on the top spot in the release division they will win an additional $45,216.
But, the big winners continue to be the crew of Citation who spent Monday night moored at the Big Rock scales after offloading their record catch and receiving a $318,750 check for boating the first blue marlin weighing at least 500 pounds. Citation captain Eric Holmes of Buxton did more, carving out a place in Big Rock history by landing the tournament’s largest-ever blue marlin.
“Andy was on the fish a long time and he was working it...I’m really proud of him,” Holmes said shortly after reaching the scales. “We couldn’t have done it without everybody on board though, it was something else."
Teams are allowed to fish 4-of-6 days during the tournament and must notify Big Rock headquarters by 9 a.m. if they elect not to fish. Winners for all categories will be crowned Saturday night at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.