Let a fever-pitched celebration begin!
Hatteras Fever II captured the 55th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament Saturday when it survived a wild final day that featured 30 blue marlin releases. Hatteras Fever II, captained by Buddy Hooper, showed up at the scales Wednesday with a 465.3-pound blue marlin that was reeled in by Raleigh angler Taylor Miller. This catch turned out to be worth $478,050 when no other qualifying blue marlins were landed.
Sensation captain Dale Britt, Morehead City, and angler Trey Siner, Concord, finished second with a 423.8-pound blue marlin landed Monday when the tournament opened. Britt and crew will receive $202,950 for their runner-up finish.
Hatteras Fever II might be the most unlikely Big Rock champion since 19-of-20 previous big Rock winning catches weighed more than their fish. But rough weather at the start of the tournament and good luck at the end proved enough for Hooper and his crews to become the champs.
Saturday proved to be a dramatic day even though no blue marlins were brought to the scales. Anglers on 99-of-100 boats went offshore and released 30 blue marlin, 19 white marlin releases, and four sailfish. It was easily the best day of fishing during the tournament.
The week produced 65 blue marlin, 40 white marlin and 14 sailfish releases. Three blue marlin were boated, including one that did not meet tournament minimums of 110 inches lower jaw fork length or 400 pounds.
Sea Toy, captained by Bull Tolson, Manteo, came from behind on the final day to capture the billfish release division and win the $37,312 first-place prize. Sea Toy finished with 1,425 points for two blue marlin, three white marlin and two sailfish releases. Sea Toy scored a “Grand Slam" (one release of each billfish species) Saturday which was earned the team 650 points on the final day.
Maggie, captained by Randy Bryant, Atlantic Beach, scored 525 points Saturday with a blue marlin and a white marlin release to finish second in the billfish release division. Maggie scored 1,300 points during the week with a total of two blue marlins and four white marlins to win $22,387.20.
Let It B, captained by Glenn Lofton, Morehead City, grabbed the third-place prize of $14,924.80 for scoring 1,200 points in the billfish release division. Let It B released three blue marlins, including two Saturday, which proved to be worth an additional $4,197.60 in the daily release prize category.
Change Order, captained by Kelly White, Wilmington, scored the 55th billfish release of the tournament to win a special $5,500 prize.
Sea Creature, winner of the 51st Big Rock in 2009, won $2,000 Saturday for scoring the first release of the day. Sea Creature, captained by Steve Coulter, Hatteras, released a blue marlin at 8:19 a.m. and later released a sailfish.
Bil-Buster, captained by John Steele II of Hubert won the tuna category with a 64.80-pounder caught Wednesday by angler John Casalaspro, Jacksonville. The Bil-Buster team will receive $3,952.50 plus a $790.50 top daily prize.
Magic Moment, captained by Fred Willis, Morehead City, won the wahoo category with a 65.8-pounder caught Tuesday by Alan Carroll, Smithfield. The Magic Moment team will also receive $3,952.50 plus a $790.50 daily winner prize.
Bootlegger, captained by Jimmy Canoy of Sophia, finished first in the dolphin category to win the “Winner Take All” prize of $68,850 when Nathan McFetters of Hampstead reeled in a 53.3-pounder. The combined haul for McFetters’ dolphin is $73,593 when you add in the daily and the overall category prizes.
The six-day competition wrapped up Saturday night with an awards ceremony held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center. The distribution of tournament funds for charities will take place in the near future.