Billfish releases add excitement to Big Rock

While blue marlin weigh-ins drew the lion’s share of media attention Monday during the first day of the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, billfish releases and large dolphin catches delivered great paydays for several competing crews.

Big Rock anglers released 18 blue marlin, 15 white marlin and six sailfish during the opener. String Line captain Mark Schlenker, Garner, started things off by winning the $5,000 Gregory Poole first release prize. String Line’s white marlin release put the boat temporarily in the lead for daily and overall release prizes.

Competitors are battling for $284,750 weekly release prize money and $282,625 in daily release prizes. Full Pull, captained by Ryan Riggs, North Charleston, SC, won the first daily prize of $47,104 for two blue marlin releases (800 points) scored Monday. That put Ryan in position to win an additional $142,375 first place weekly release prize if he can keep Full Pull in the overall release lead through Saturday.

Competitors in the 61st Big Rock are allowed to fish four-of-six days and must notify officials of the days they do not intend to fish. Fishing hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except Saturday when the fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Any fight that starts before the end-of-day deadline can continue until the hook-up reaches a resolution.