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Ashley Lauren maintains Big Rock lead

When the first half of the 58th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament came to a close Wednesday, competitors were either confident or concerned.

Those in the “confident” category include all fishing teams that have already won money or are currently listed on the Big Rock leaderboard. The “concerned” group includes all competitors who have not yet staked a claim to the Big Rock’s record $1,914,100 purse.

Gryphon, captain Charles Moore, Charleston, S.C., hoped to join those already on the blue marlin leader board with a catch reeled in by Colby Griffin, Isle of Palms, S.C. But Griffin’s catch tipped the scales at 413.2-pounds and did not change the blue marlin standings.

That means the Ashley Lauren, captained by Mark Annis, Clayton, maintained its tournament lead with the 621.4-pounder reeled in by Garner angler Doug Phillips. The Ashley Lauren catch is worth $662,995 to the Clayton-based fishing team if it can hold the tournament lead three more days.

Marlin Gull, captained by Kenny Midgett, Wanchese, held the first-day lead with a 564.8-pound blue marlin caught by angler William McSpadden, Coinjock. McSpadden helped his team captured the $433,500 Fabulous Fisherman prize for landing the first 500-pound blue marlin caught during this year’s Big Rock. Marlin Gull will win an additional $238,480 if it can hold on to second place.

Piracy captain Chris Russell and angler C.J. Struyk, hold down the third spot in the standing with a 558.8-pound blue marlin that was landed late Tuesday afternoon. The Morehead City-based Piracy team is currently in position to win $158,320 from the Big Rock pot.

Only eight boats from the field of 174 elected to stay in port Wednesday despite deteriorating Gulf Stream weather. Thundershowers and lightning peppered the fishing zone throughout the day and several fishing teams pushed nearly 100 miles offshore to avoid the inclement conditions.

The six-day event continues Thursday at 9 a.m. Each boat is allowed to fish 4-of-6 days during the competition. The six-day event concludes Saturday with an awards ceremony at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.

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