The second day of the 53rd Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament gave no indication it would be different from the first, but Tuesday proved to be the polar opposite of Monday since there were few changes to the leader board.
Even though wind, temperature and sea state were about the same, the bite wasn’t. Competitors on 121-of-135 boats that headed offshore managed just six blue marlin releases and three white marlin releases during six hours of fishing.
Missing were the raucous celebrations that came with the Monday weigh-ins of two huge blue marlins. The crew of Blue Water, captained by Gray Hall, Morehead City, kicked off the first commotion when they showed up at the scales with a 580.6-pound blue marlin caught by Jeffrey Gregg of Boca Raton, FL.
Gregg’s inaugural blue marlin catch was worth $284,750. It was the Big Rock’s Fabulous Fishermen prize for the boat that weighed in the first blue marlin of the tournament weighing more than 500 pounds.
Cheering that was loud for Blue Water seemed to double two hours later. That's when Double B captain Kenny Sexton of Manteo reached the scales. Double B’s blue marlin, reeled in by Travis Stephenson, Angier, took over first place when it weighed in at 652.8 pounds. Since no blue marlin were boated Tuesday, Double B maintained its hold on first place as the tournament heads toward its midpoint day of fishing.
The 53rd Big Rock did, however, continue its theme of wild highs and lows. Trophy, who had a blue marlin catch disqualified Monday, bounced right back to win $2,000 for scoring the first billfish release of the day. Trophy, captained by Jon Horton, Wilmington, was in position to win an additional $6406 for the best release point total for the day, but lost out to Galot III in the final five minute of action.
Galot III, captained by Guy “Porky” Herring of Knoxville, TN, scored two blue marlin hook-ups in the final 52 minutes of fishing and took over the overall lead in the release division. But just as the bite was starting to pick up, fishermen ran out of time.
The Fixation, captained by Chris Hasty of Greenville, took over the lead of the dolphin division with a 29.9-pounder. Contagious, captained by Jodie Gay, Hampstead, weighed in a 27.9-pounder Tuesday to take over the runner-up spot in the dolphin category.
The Ann Warrick, captained by Ted Kramer, Manteo, won the daily wahoo prize with a 13.6-pound catch. Franchise Sails, captained by Brian Efland of Cedar Point, weighed in a 53.7-pound wahoo Monday and still holds the top spot in that division. Gamefish divisional winners receive $5,525 plus their share of the daily purse.
Competitors in the 53rd Big Rock are allowed to fish four of the six fishing days and must notify officials of the days they do not intend to fish. The competition continues Wednesday at 9 a.m. after a blessing of the fleet and the official announcement that lines are allowed in the water.