Junior Anglers Showed Up & Showed Out, Here’s The Run Down:

That’s a wrap on the 4th Annual Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament presented by Kurtis Chevrolet! Despite inclement weather, 24 boats competed for their share of a $78,475 purse. Ninety junior anglers tallied 23 billfish releases throughout the week, including 8 blue marlin and 13 sailfish.

Due to rough seas, CARTERICAN turned the tournament into a one-day shootout. Captain Lee Smith took his youngest daughter, Baker Smith, and a crew of her four friends offshore. By noon, Baker, Anderson Shatterly, and Savannah Penny had all released sailfish!

At 12:32 PM, the girls hooked up a doubleheader. Georgie Landry released the first of the pair after a quick three-minute fight, and Anderson released the second of the pair, her second sailfish of the day, at 12:37 PM. The excitement continued when, by 12:50 PM, they hooked another doubleheader. Savannah and Anna Kate Salter battled the sails, releasing them both at 12:52 PM! CARTERICAN scored 1,050 points for their 7 sailfish, winning the tournament and $28,600.

REEL DEVELOPER released two blue marlin, with junior angler Tanner Parrish on the rod for one of them. The team claimed second place with 825 points, earning $13,825.

SENSATION shook up the leaderboard with just 7 minutes to spare before lines out, releasing a sailfish to slide into third place. In total, SENSATION released 1 blue marlin and 2 sailfish, winning $6,000 ($5,000 for Level I + $1,000 for the 1st release on Thursday).

CUERVOS competed on Saturday and Sunday, with their sole junior angler, Hamp Kennedy, racking up 4 sailfish releases worth 600 points and $10,755 (Saturday 1st Release: $1,000, Level II 3rd Place: $2,550, Level III Daily Saturday: $7,225).

For the first time in tournament history, one boat clinched the top two prizes in the Dolphin Division, while another boat secured both first and second places in the Wahoo Division.

The Watson sister duo aboard WIDESPREAD made waves in the Dolphin Division. Liza Watson weighed in a winning mahi mahi at 9.4 lbs, while Ella Watson followed closely with a 9.2 lb mahi. Their impressive catches earned their team a total of $9,350 ($5,610 for First Place + $3,740 for Second Place).

HAWGFIN REAPER dominated the Wahoo Division by bringing in the only wahoo of the tournament. Jaxon Litel’s 17.2 lb wahoo and Charlie Nagel’s 13.3 lb catch secured first and second places, earning the team $8,925 ($5,355 + $3,570).


We are updating our schedule for the Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament in response to the weather forecast for this week. Sunday, July 14th, has now been added as a fishing day. Participants will fish 2 out of the 4 days, Captain’s Choice (Thursday, July 11th – Sunday, July 14th).

All Big Rock Kids Tournament events will be relocated to The Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City, just 2.5 miles from Big Rock HQ. All events are open to public & families are encouraged to join us! Daily weigh-ins will still occur at Big Rock Landing from 3 PM to 7 PM.

For a complete schedule of events, visit here. To register, click here.


  • Entry Deadline Extended: Boats will now have up until 9:00 am on Saturday, July 13th, to register for the 2024 Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament.
  • Withdrawals and Refunds: Boats will be allowed to withdraw from the tournament prior to their 1st day of fishing. All withdrawal & refund requests must be submitted in writing to tournament HQ. No refund or withdrawal requests will be accepted after Saturday, July 13th at 9 am.
  • Daily Release Prizes: At least 10% of the fleet (as of lines in each day) must fish for daily prize money to be paid.

The Captain’s Meeting will take place at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, July 10th, at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.

Don’t miss out! With a $300 donation (or more), you’ll receive 8 Participant Passes, 4 Participant T-Shirts, and 1 Seabag. Visit Big Rock HQ or call us to make a donation.

Contact Information:
For questions, please contact Carlee Sharpe at (919) 801-8346.



GAME TIME Wins the 66th Annual Big Rock Tournament; Three Teams Each Take Home Over $1.8 Million in Historic Payouts

MOREHEAD CITY, NC (JUNE 17, 2024) – The 66th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, presented by Jarrett Bay Boatworks, featured a record-breaking fleet of 302 boats competing for a staggering total purse of $7,562,700. For the first time in sportfishing tournament history, the top three teams each won over $1.8 million!

GAME TIME was crowned the winner of the Big Rock Tournament with their 516lb blue marlin, which dominated the leaderboard all week. They claimed the Levels I, II, III, and IV prizes, totaling $1,816,375.

RELEASE earned the title of Fabulous Fishermen by securing the Level V win on Day 1 for boating the first 500lb blue marlin of the tournament. Their 504lb catch not only placed them second overall but also brought in a top payout of $2,215,325 (Level I-IV: $485,575 + Level V: $1,729,750).

The 64′ Jarrett Bay, BUILDER’S CHOICE, demonstrated that it pays to play. Their 431.8lb blue marlin earned them $1,479,000 in the Level VI: Prime Storage Super 20 Division (a $20,000 calcutta), plus an additional $323,050 for their third-place finish in Levels I, II, III, and IV, totaling $1,802,050.

AVA D’s 46.2lb mahi set a new benchmark in the Level VII: Dolphin Winner Take All Division, sponsored by Parker Boats. The crew earned $603,500 for their catch, which is a record payout for a dolphin in any tournament globally!

SANDBOB prevailed in the Level VIII Release Division, earning $150,875 plus a daily prize of $50,291.67, for a grand total of $201,167. The team accumulated 2250 points by releasing five blue marlin and two white marlin within four days of fishing.

HONKY TONK won the Level IX Non-Sonar Release Division for releasing three blue marlin, earning a total of $114,750 – $86,062.50 for the weekly prize and $28,687.50 for a daily prize.

TOP SHOT secured the top spot in the Level X & XI Outboard Divisions with four blue marlin releases, earning $50,575.

268 billfish were released during the tournament – 196 blue marlin, 35 white marlin and 37 sailfish. Teams had multiple opportunities to win part of the $7.5 million purse through daily release cash prizes, overall release point winners, along with daily and weekly prizes for the heaviest dolphin, tuna, and wahoo. For a full list of winners, please visit The 2024 Big Rock Payouts List.

As the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament continues to expand its global reach and participant base, its charitable efforts within the communities served by the Big Rock Foundation grow as well. The Big Rock Board of Directors and staff express their sincere gratitude for the support from world-class teams, businesses, and organizations and eagerly anticipates the 67th Annual tournament in June 2025!

View the Tournament Photo Gallery

Experience the excitement all over again on Big Rock TV.

Show your support – SHOP Big Rock Gear, HERE!


Have you ever dreamed of being a HERO by making a difference in your community? Now’s your opportunity with the “My Hometown Raffle”- a thrilling promotion where you can contribute to a noble cause and possibly walk away with a heartwarming prize! Here’s how you enter:

1) Purchase your ticket, purchase online here
2) Spread the Word! Share your participation on social media using #myhometownraffle to encourage friends and family to join in the chance to give to your favorite worthy organization.
3) Wait for Grand Prize Drawing. Winner gets to decide which charity(s) will receive the $20,000!

Morehead City, NC (April 29, 2024)
– The Big Rock Board of Directors will once again offer a $10 per ticket raffle for a chance to win $20,000 to a (501C3) charity of your choice in your own hometown. This is included as part of the 66h celebration and past successes of all three tournaments, Big Rock, KWLA and Big Rock Kids.

“We are excited for the second year of My Hometown Raffle and what it will raise for Big Rock Foundation, stated Crystal Hesmer, Foundation Director. “I can’t wait to see who wins this year and what worthy organization they will choose to donate to.”

Our motto is “Charity First”, commented President, Les Collins. “We are looking forward to seeing someone be the hero in their own community while making a substantial difference with their favorite charity.”

Last year’s winner, Sidney Chadwick Weymann was super excited and thankful to win this heartwarming prize. “When I saw the raffle promotion, I knew right away I would donate a significant amount to Misplaced Mutts in Carteret County, commented Sidney.” She split her contribution three ways, giving $14,000 to Misplaced Mutts, $3000 to Carteret County Humane Society and $3000 to Footbridge of the Triad.

Chances to win can be increased by sharing with family, friends, and co-workers since there is no limit to the number of tickets purchased. One winner will be selected via a random drawing on Saturday June 15th at 4:00 P.M. Raffle ticket proceeds benefit The Big Rock Foundation.

Through each tournament, The Big Rock Foundation raises funding for a multitude of charities throughout Carteret County and North Carolina. Additional funding for the Foundation includes Big Rock retail sales, private donations, endowments, Big Rock License Plate sales and various other fund raising throughout the year.

In 2023 Big Rock Foundation donated $1.6 million dollars to various charities bringing the cumulative donation to over $10 MILLION DOLLARS! Those donations included:

-Broad Street Clinic $7,500
-Crystal Coast Hospice House $7,500
-East Carolina Boys Scout Council $7,500
-The History Place $7,500
-Hope Mission $7,500
-Martha’s Mission $7,500
-North Carolina State University, Research $10,000
-North Carolina Symphony-Carteret County $17,000
-Station Club/Easter Seals UPC $7,500
-The Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament – Boys and Girls Club, $35,000
-The Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament – Carteret Healthcare, $25,000

-Autism Society of North Carolina, $10,000
-Beaufort Little League, $177,000
-Beaufort Middle School, $84,000
-BridgeKids Preschool, $28,000
-Broad Creek Middle School, $20,500
-Carteret Health Care $500,000
-Carteret Community Theatre $250,000
-Coastal Pregnancy Care Center, $20,000
-Croatan High School-BAND, $16,000
-Delta Health Foundation, $10,000
-East Carteret High School-BAND, $16,000
-Family Promise, $12,000
-IGFA, $20,000
-Knights of Columbus-LAMB Foundation, $2000
-Make a Wish, $10,000
-Military Appreciation Day, $10,000
-Morehead City Middle School-BAND, $33,000
-Newport Babe Ruth League, Inc., $30,000
-Newport Little League, $48,000
-NC State University, $30,000
-Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, $5,000
-Pretty in Pink, $35,000
-West Carteret-BAND, $50,000
-Western Carteret Fire and EMS, $69,000

Celebrating 66 Years with $6,600

Celebrating 66 years of Big Rock with a $6,600 FUEL GIVEAWAY! Upon registering for the 66th Annual Big Rock Tournament, participants will automatically be entered to win a $6,600 fuel credit from the Morehead City Gulf Docks, located on the Morehead City Waterfront. The LIVE drawing will take place on Big Rock Radio Wednesday, June 12th at 12:00 pm.

The winner can use the prize as reimbursement for fuel purchased at the start of the tournament, for future purchases during tournament week, or throughout the year (must use before December 31, 2024). Don’t wait to fuel up!

For more information, contact Madison Struyk (252) 725-1568



Diamond Fishing Products & Zacatak Lures Partner To Bring Big Rock Tournament Highlights To Audiences Worldwide

Diamond Fishing Products and Zacatak Lures are thrilled to announce their partnership as new sponsors of the prestigious Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. This collaboration marks an exciting venture for both brands as they join forces to support one of the most renowned marlin tournaments in the world.

As part of this partnership, Diamond Fishing Products and Zacatak Lures will sponsor the launch of Big Rock’s Daily Re-Cap Video, providing audiences with a captivating way to catch up on the day’s events, fishing highlights and tournament action.

Eddie Gaw, Vice President of both brands, shared his enthusiasm for the partnership. “We are thrilled to join forces with Big Rock, both Diamond Fishing Products and Zacatak Lures are deeply rooted in the sport fishing community. Notably, last year’s winning fish was caught using Hi-Catch Diamond monofilament! Sponsoring the Daily Re-Cap Video aligns with our commitment to enhancing the tournament experience for participants and fans, alongside our dedication to providing premium quality products for anglers. We look forward to showcasing our passion for the sport!

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament has garnered a widespread following across the world, attracting anglers and enthusiasts from all corners of the globe,” emphasized Madison Struyk, Tournament Director of Big Rock. “Our partnership with Diamond Fishing Products and Zacatak Lures underscores the tournament’s commitment to innovation and engaging with our audience on a broader scale. The Daily Re-Cap Video will serve as a crucial platform for bringing the excitement of the tournament to a global audience, ensuring that everyone, no matter where they are, can experience the thrill and camaraderie of the Big Rock.

For more information on Diamond Fishing Products, visit
For more information on Zacatak Lures, visit


Online Registration is now OPEN for the 66th Annual Big Rock and 27th Annual KWLA Tournament and the 4th Annual Big Rock Kids Tournament. Simply log into the Reel Time Apps account associated with the boat you wish to register and complete the required form elements. Ensure all information is accurate, select entry levels and apply payment. When submitting registration online, you may choose to pay via credit card (2.75% processing fee applied) or mail-in / drop off payment. If you choose to mail-in your payment, please do so before June 1st. Payment may be mailed or dropped of to Big Rock Headquarters- 710 Evans Street, Morehead City, NC. We strongly encourage all participants to register online. 

Additional entry levels may be added online after initial registration is submitted by logging back into account or by visiting us at Big Rock HQ. Seabags and participant shirts will be available for pickup starting June 1st, 2024. Teams may also update boat photos, edit crew members and add anglers via their app account. For app tutorial videos, please visit here

If you have any questions or are experiencing technical difficulties please contact,
– For Big Rock registration assistance: Madison Struyk, (252) 725-1568
– For KWLA Registration assistance: Carlee Sharpe, (919) 801-8346

To download 2024 Big Rock Rules, click here
To view 2024 Big Rock Entry Levels + Payouts, click here

The Big Rock Foundation Makes Waves With a Milestone 1.6 Million Dollar Donation to Charities!


710 Evans Street, Morehead City, North Carolina 28557

(252) 247-3575 · 


Contact: Crystal Hesmer, Big Rock Foundation Director,


The Big Rock Foundation Makes Waves With a Milestone 1.6 Million Dollar Donation to Charities!  

Morehead City, NC (November 28, 2023)The Big Rock Foundation Makes Waves of Generosity with a Staggering $1.6 Million Donation to Charities on Giving Tuesday.

The Big Rock Foundation proudly announces a momentous donation of $1,659,000 to charities on Giving Tuesday. This extraordinary contribution is the largest annual donation and marks a milestone for the foundation. The Big Rock Foundation’s charitable giving now surpasses $10 Million since 1986! 

September 14, 1957, marked the first-ever landing of a blue marlin in Morehead City. Today, we’re making history once again by giving back $1.6 million to well-deserving organizations in Carteret County and beyond. It’s our way of honoring the spirit of that historical catch 65 years ago and paying tribute to the growth of the tournament. 

Just like that historic catch, The Big Rock Foundation is hooked on the idea that small actions can lead to something monumental. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, with its 271 boats and anglers from around the world, is the driving force behind the incredible donation. Additionally, the Big Rock Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament has become the world’s largest ladies-only tournament, boasting 266 boats. The Big Rock Kids Tournament has become a renowned event that gets Jr. Anglers hooked on fishing and has funded donations to children’s charities in Eastern North Carolina. 

“The charitable contributions announced today are made possible by the record-breaking success, participation and sponsorship across all three events, and year-round retail sales.” – Madison Struyk, Executive Director. 

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament isn’t just about fishing; it’s about creating a tidal wave of change. The Big Rock Foundation knows how to ride that wave, turning every dollar from retail sales, every generous donation, and every participant’s enthusiasm into a force for good.

The Foundation combines the passion of its donors, tournament participants, sponsors, and retail customers to generate funds for its philanthropic endeavors. Those funds are distributed among a carefully selected group of charities that align with the foundation’s mission. The charities represent a diverse range of causes, including but not limited to education, healthcare, community improvement, and conservation.

The Big Rock Foundation is proud to announce its largest single donation ever made – a transformative donation of $500,000 to Carteret Health Care for the establishment of a state-of-the-art oncology center. The funds will be utilized to establish a cutting-edge cancer center at Carteret Health Care, providing crucial resources for the diagnosis, treatment, and care of individuals facing cancer. This initiative aligns with the Big Rock Foundation’s mission to make a lasting impact on community health and ensure that residents have access to top-tier medical facilities and services.

“This is a historical day for the Big Rock tournaments, the best day of the year!”, commented Crystal Hesmer, Foundation Director. “We are so thankful for our many donations to the Foundation this year including  memorial, individual and participant contributions.”

The Big Rock Foundation extends its heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to the foundation’s success, emphasizing that this donation is a testament to the collective power of individual donors, memorial contributions and support for the Big Rock Tournament. 


About The Big Rock Foundation: 

The Big Rock Foundation is the charitable arm of the Big Rock Tournaments. The foundation harnesses the support of donors, participants, and retail sales to make a significant impact on society. The foundation is committed to creating lasting change by supporting charities across various sectors, including education, healthcare, conservation, and community improvement. Through a collaborative approach, The Big Rock Foundation inspires individuals and businesses to contribute to the movement for a better community. For more information, please visit



Autism Society of NC, $10,000

Beaufort Little League, $177,000

Beaufort Middle School, $84,000

BridgeKids Preschool, $28,000

Broad Creek Middle School, $20,500

Coastal Pregnancy Care Center, $20,000

Croatan High School-BAND, $50,000

Delta Health Foundation, $10,000

East Carteret-Band, $16,000

Family Promise, $20,000

IGFA, $16,000

Knights of Columbus- LAMB Foundation, $2000

Make a Wish, $10,000

Military Appreciation Day, $10,000

Morehead City Middle School Band, $33,000

Newport Babe Ruth League Inc., $30,000

Newport Little League, $48,000

NC STATE University, $30,000

Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, $5,000

Pretty in Pink, $35,000

West Carteret Band, $50,000

Western Carteret Fire and EMS, $69,000

Carteret Community Theatre, $250,000

Carteret Health Care, $500,000



KWLA- Carteret Healthcare, $25,000

BRKIDS- Boys and Girls Club, $35,000

Broad Street Clinic, $7,500

Crystal Coast Hospice House, $7,500

East Carolina Council for Boys Scouts, $7,500

The History Place, $7,500

Hope Mission, $7,500

Martha’s Mission, $7,500

North Carolina State University, Research, $10,000

North Carolina Symphony-Carteret County, $17,000

Station Club/ Easter Seals UPC, $7,500

Bogue Sound Elementary Play Structure Ribbon Cutting

The Big Rock Foundation celebrated another Carteret County School project donation this week at Bogue Sound Elementary School with their new play structure, Cypress Preserve. In 2022, the Big Rock Foundation donated $78,000 to the school to build this inclusive play area. The new (ADA compliant) playground will allow every student regardless of their disability to participate in all types of play, teaching lessons of inclusion and understanding. This playground is OPEN to the public outside of school hours!

“This playground showcases Big Rock’s commitment to the youth in our community.” – Tommy Bennett, Big Rock Charity Chairman

The Big Rock Foundation is primarily funded by the success of all 3 Big Rock Tournaments (Big Rock, KWLA, Big Rock Kids), private donors, sponsors, and proceeds from The Big Rock Store. Become a part of the tradition that gives back – Buy your 65th Annual Big Rock T-Shirt before they’re gone!


Fellow Big Rock Supporters,

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our latest newsletter, “The Spread”. The Spread is a new digital initiative from Big Rock that brings you the inside scoop year-round. This newsletter will highlight all of the things you know and love about Big Rock, but is tailored to those of us that can’t get enough of sportfishing.

“Big Rock isn’t just a week-long blue marlin tournament, it’s a lifestyle.”

To us, Big Rock isn’t just a week-long blue marlin tournament, it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle that encompasses camaraderie, sportsmanship, conservation, innovation, charitable giving, and world-class sportfishing. That’s what The Spread will feature – the accomplishments of our participants, interesting stories from fishermen around the world, updates on the industry leaders, and of course an inside look into the rich 65-year history of The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.

As we begin this new venture, we hope that you’ll follow along, give us feedback, and enjoy the read.
– The Big Rock Board of Directors & Staff


SEA WEEZ, a 67′ Ricky Scarborough, released Blue Marlin on Saturday and Sunday, both estimated to be 900+ pounds. The boat has fished around the world since it splashed two years ago, including out of Morehead City during the 2021 Big Rock Tournament. The team is currently in the Azores, Portugal.

The skeleton crew consisted of Captain Ross Finlayson and anglers Hannah Drake and Joe Byrum. Hannah reeled in the fish on Saturday, and after a 45-minute fight, Joe worked the wire. On Sunday, Joe got a chance to be in the hot seat while Hannah handled the leader. It’s always impressive to hear stories of lady anglers hanging with the guys — especially when they’re catching near granders (1,000+ lb. marlin). You can tell in the videos, wiring these monsters isn’t a walk in the park. From Saturday (7/29) – Monday (7/31), the team has gone 7 for 11 on blue marlin, with all but one being above the 500lb. class. Sea Weez’s owner, Nick Cortezi will join his crew later this week.

“I sure hope this bite keeps going so he can enjoy it too.” – Joe Byrum

The Dare County Boat Builders Tournament happened this past weekend out of Oregon Inlet. The tournament was founded when boat-building legend, Taylor Harrison, lost his battle with cancer. After his passing, John Bayliss and Mike Merritt put their heads together to create an offshore fishing tournament that would raise funds for Harrison’s children’s educational expenses. After several successful tournaments, the Dare County Boat Builders Foundation was established to continue raising college funds for local schoolchildren. Their 20th Annual Tournament featured a full circle moment when DESPERADO, built by Taylor Harrison himself, won the tournament! Captain Gray Blount and his crew released 1 Blue Marlin + 4 Sailfish.


Big Rock board and staff were on hand last week for the groundbreaking of the new Big Rock Outdoor Learning Center at Beaufort Elementary School. This center will feature a covered pavilion with seating, garden beds, weather stations, a greenhouse, and more. Big Rock donated $50,000 for this project which was included in the grand total of $404,000 donated to Carteret County Schools in 2022. Lindsay Parker, granddaughter of one of the original founders of Big Rock, was the leader and organizer of this special project. Lindsay and her family PARKER AUTO GROUP continue to support the tournament today as Diamond Sponsors.

Every tournament in the North Carolina Billfish Series donates proceeds to the community or other worthy causes. Though it’s an often overlooked aspect of billfish tournaments, it’s one of the participants and our favorite components. To date, The Big Rock Foundation has donated over $8.5 Million to organizations in Carteret County and beyond!


The Big Rock is more than a fishing tournament. The Big Rock Store is a year-round retail operation on the waterfront in Morehead City. Big Rock may be known for our annual tournament tees, but you’ll find new shirts, hats, gifts, and more each season! And it’s shopping you can feel good about, because all proceeds from The Big Rock Store benefit Big Rock Charities. The next time you’re in town, visit us: 710 Evans Street. We’re open Monday-Saturday 10 AM – 6 PM and Sunday 12 – 5 PM. Can’t make it to town? We ship nationwide, shop online:

SUBSCRIBE NOW for the latest edition of THE SPREAD by Big Rock