The fifth day of competition for the 52nd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament has 142 of the 155 eligible boats fishing. That means 36 of Friday’s competitors are fishing their final day and 119 boats will be eligible to fish Saturday.

“I expect a really exciting finish.” said Big Rock president Randy Ramsey. “The captains are getting on the fish. They’re getting on a rhythm of where fish are feeding. You put a big fleet out there and they will have a real opportunity to find them.”

Although no blue marlins were brought to the scales Thursday, the fourth day of the 52nd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament invigorated many of the competing teams. Fishermen tallied 19 billfish releases to double the total of any previous day.

Citation, a boat captained by Eric Holmes of Buxton, continues to hold first place with the tournament-record 883-pound blue marlin caught Monday. Citation received a $318,750 check for catching the first blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds. Citation would receive at least $912,825 from the tournament’s $1.66 million purse if they hold on to win.

A second huge blue marlin was caught Wednesday by Carnivore, captained by Ed Petrilli of Cape Carteret. Carnivore came to the scales with a 528.3-pound blue marlin which puts that team in position to win at least $217,570 if they finish as the runner-up.

Third place – and a potential payday of $144,380 – is still open on the leader board. Citation and Carnivore would do a 60/40 split on this portion of the purse if no other blue marlins are caught.

Remarkably, the 52nd billfish release – worth $5,200 – is still up for grabs. A large portion of the final standings will be determined during the final 12 hours of fishing.

Miss Judy captain Lacy Henry of Atlantic Beach scored two blue marlin releases Tuesday and continues to lead the billfish release division. The Miss Judy has elected to fish their final day Friday in hopes to add to their lead.

Angler Hunter King of Raleigh currently leads the wahoo division, reeling in a 61.8-pounder Thursday. Hunter was fishing aboard Big Hunter, captained by Ken Lohr of Morehead City.

The tuna division is led by Barbara B, a Greenville-based boat captained by Hunter Blount. Barbara B landed a 46.6-pounder Monday and has held on to the top spot ever since.

Sea Creature, captained by Steve “Creature” Coulter of Hatteras, continues to hold the lead in the winner-take-all dolphin division. Sea Creature angler John Manousaridis of Atlantic Beach reeled in a 52.4-pounder that’s currently worth $103,990.42.

Teams fish 4-of-6 days during the Big Rock and must notify tournament headquarters by 9 a.m. if they opt to take a lay day. The 52nd Big Rock concludes Saturday with a presentation of prizes and an awards dinner at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, Morehead City.