The 52nd Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament reached its midpoint in style Wednesday as Carnivore landed a 528.3-pound blue marlin and grabbed second place in the overall standings.

Carnivore captain Ed Petrilli of Cape Carteret put his team in position to win $217,570 when angler John Parks of Jacksonville reeled in a blue marlin that was originally thought to be too small.

“We weren’t sure how big it was,” said Petrilli. “Then it jumped about 10 times and we got a good look at it. Then we knew it was big enough. It was a fat fish.”

Unfortunately for Petrilli, it wasn’t quite as big as the blue marlin caught Monday.

Citation captain Eric Holmes of Buxton brought an 883-pound blue marlin to the scales Monday which set an all-time Big Rock record. It also gave Citation a solid claim for the first place prize of $912,825 from a purse that tops $1.66 million. The Citation’s monster-sized blue marlin topped the 831-pounder caught during the 42nd annual Big Rock by Ron Wallschlager aboard Summertime Blues. It instantly earned the Citation crew a $318,750 prize for landing the first blue marlin to weigh more than 500 pounds.

Even though the Carnivore’s catch didn’t bite into Citation’s lead it is still an impressive blue marlin. Petrilli and his crew would have won two of the past four Big Rocks with this year’s catch and the fight was something the Carnivore team will remember for a lifetime.

“I’ve caught a lot of billfish before, but this was my first blue marlin,” said Parks, who battled his fish for 55 minutes. “It crashed the bait and then ‘greyhounded’ out in front of the boat. We spun around and she sounded. From there it took about 30 minutes to pull it back up where we could get it.”

Warmer-than-normal temperatures and negligible winds made for an unusual day offshore. Only 69-of-156 boats in the field elected to fish and many expect a similar low number Thursday as the 52nd Big Rock starts its second half.

That means a shootout condition could happen Saturday since most boats will be eligible to fish the final two days.

“The percentage of blue marlins caught was better today,” said Big Rock president Randy Ramsey. “The overall fishing is remaining consistent. I think you’ll see most of the teams go out Friday and everybody that can will fish Saturday. I personally always liked to fish the last day of the Big Rock. Sea Creature won on Saturday last year. The positive thing is we had a 500-pounder caught today and other blue marlins were seen. It’s getting better. My guess is you’ve got a lot of boats with two days left you’ll see most of them fishing on Saturday.”

Miss Judy, captained by Lacy Henry of Atlantic Beach, continues to lead the billfish release division with two blue marlin releases. Henry and crew took a layday Wednesday and have two days left to fish.

Job Site, captained by Bill Farrior, Jr., of Greenville scored the first billfish release Wednesday to win the $2,000 first release prize. Two other boats – Noah’s Ark and Galot 3 – had a shot at the prize but both fell victim to pulled hooks before a release could be scored.

Sea Creature, captained by Steve 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 is currently worth $97,912.

Teams are allowed to fish 4-of-6 days during the Big Rock competition and must notify tournament headquarters by 9 a.m. if they elect to take a lay day. The 52nd Big Rock will wrap-up Saturday with a presentation of prizes and a winner’s awards dinner at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, Morehead City.