Wet-N-Wild, a boat captained by Tony Ross of Beaufort, experienced a day offshore much like it’s name.
Ross and crew took over third place in the 52nd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament when they arrived at the scales Friday afternoon with a 460-pound catch 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.
“We were trolling along and (the blue marlin) piled in on the right long rigger,” said Ross. “It swung around and ‘greyhounded’ three times behind the boat, took of about 200 yards of line and carried me down to my backing (on the reel.) It sounded and we backed down on it ... and in 45 minutes we had it in the boat.”
Ross praised Engleby who – in turn – praised Wet-N-Wild mate Curtis Morris for bringing the fish to gaff.
“He kept telling me what to do,” Engleby said. “It was great. It feels real good right now.”
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.
Citation, a boat captained by Eric Holmes of Buxton, continues to exert a firm hold on first place in the blue marlin division with the tournament-record 883-pounder caught Monday. The Citation crew received a $318,750 check for catching the first blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds and will receive $912,825 from the tournament’s $1.66 million purse if they hold on to win.
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.
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 standings.
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 Friday but did not add to their lead. They have now fished 4-of-6 days in the tournament and must wait at the docks to see if their lead stands up one more day.
The 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 one more day to fish and needs another billfish release to take over the top spot.
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.
The 52nd Big Rock concludes Saturday with fishing hours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anglers who are hooked to billfish during those hours 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.