Sunny skies and light breezes encouraged 98 of the 100 boats entered in the 55th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament to head offshore Monday morning and try to win a share of the $1,154,625 purse.

The Big Rock registration reached 100 boats late Sunday, a total that looked in jeopardy earlier that day. That was because Tropical Storm Andrea prevented several boats from reaching the area because of rough seas during the days leading up to the event.

Despite the bad weather, the Big Rock purse topped $1 million for a 16th straight year. Competitors were encouraged to fish Monday since the first boat to weigh in 500-pound blue marlin would win $225,250 if entered in the Fabulous Fisherman’s Level VI portion of the competition.

The tournament continues through Saturday and each boat is allowed to fish 4 out of the 6 days during the competition. All boats must enter Level I to be eligible for prizes. The other levels are optional.

Monday fishing hours are 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and anglers must notify tournament headquarters when a blue marlin is boated. Weigh-ins are held at Big Rock headquarters on the Morehead City waterfront.

Sunday, at the completion of the 16th annual Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Tournament, Fight-N-Lady claimed victory in the billfish division with an early blue marlin catch and release by Jessica Proctor. The KWLA raises a significant amount of money for charity, including $19,975 last year to help support the Raab Cancer Center. The KWLA has donated more than $162,313 to support the Raab Center and $201,670 to support all charitable organizations since its inception in 1988.