The Big Rock Board of Directors and its Charity Committee are pleased to announce that the organization’s annual charitable contribution will total $1 Million for the first time in tournament history.

“After a record-breaking fleet of 270 boats participating in this year’s tournament, we are extremely excited about the continued tradition of ‘Charity First’ with local charities receiving in excess of 1 Million dollars.” exclaimed Big Rock Board of Directors President, Emery Ivey. 

In addition to contributing over $100,000 to its ten core charities, the Big Rock is able to donate $868,500 to larger impact campaigns. 91% of the contributions will benefit Carteret County specifically. Recipients include a variety of community improvement projects, marine conservation initiatives, and education programs. 

To date, Big Rock has donated more than $900,000 to Carteret County Public Schools and is thrilled to present the Big Rock Teaching Fellows Program. The program will provide scholarships to Carteret County graduates that wish to pursue a career in education, in agreement that they will return to Carteret County to teach after receiving their college degree. 

The Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Tournament will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in June 2022. Since 1998, the ladies-only tournament has contributed $425,000 to Carteret Health Care Cancer Center for patient comfort and care. 

Proceeds from the First Annual Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain. 

From Big Rock’s first recorded donation of $17,000 in 1986, to today, 35 years later where the total contributions reach $7,567,448,  we are humbled by our beginnings and honored to serve the community that devotedly supports us.

“Today is another milestone day in the storied history of The Big Rock Tournament.  Being able to provide $1,000,000 in charitable giving today is made possible by the commitment of our participants, the loyalty and generosity of our sponsors, and the dedication of our staff and board members.  As always, we are excited to see these gifts go to work right here in our community for the benefit of so many groups and individuals.” commented Charity Committee Chairman, Tommy Bennett. 

To many, Big Rock is just a summertime festivity or a t-shirt in the closet, but to our community and the recipients of these charitable contributions, it is much more. Our sincerest appreciation goes to each and every sponsor, participant, and retail customer. 

For more information please visit or contact Executive Director, Madison Struyk. 

Austin Veterinary Outreach$10,000.00
Autism Society$10,000.00
Beaufort Middle School$77,000.00
Bridge Downeast$40,000.00
Broad and Gales Creek Comm$23,000.00
Carteret Community College$100,000.00
Carteret County Public School$200,000.00
East Carteret High School – Wrestling$25,000.00
Family Promise$48,000.00
Gramercy Christian School$30,000.00
Hope Is Alive Ministries$25,000.00
Hunt of Lifetime$14,000.00
Make a Wish$15,000.00
NC State University$21,500.00
Town of Morehead City$72,000.00
Tag A Giant – Ocean Foundation$55,000.00
Tip of the Spear$50,000.00
AB Sea Turtle Project$20,000.00
First Baptist Church In Memory Of$5,000.00
Big Rock Fall Ball$3,000.00
Boy Scouts – East Carolina Council$7,500.00
Broad Street Clinic$7,500.00
History Place$7,500.00
Hope Mission$7,500.00
Martha’s Mission$7,500.00
NCSU – Research$10,000.00
NC Symphony$17,000.00
Station Club$7,500.00
KWLA – Carteret Health Care$25,000.00
BIGROCK KIDS – Boys and Girls Club$25,000.00
Board Member Discretionary$27,000.00
TOTAL 2021 CONTRIBUTION$1,000,000.00


The Big Rock board of directors is pleased to introduce Madison Struyk as the new Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Executive Director. 

“We are so excited to have Madison stepping into the Executive Director role. She has some big shoes to fill, replacing our beloved Crystal, but we are confident that she is up to the challenge and will do a fantastic job!” exclaimed Tournament President, Joy Bell.

A Morehead City native, Madison worked for the tournament during her summers while attending NC State University where she studied Sport Management. Upon graduation in 2015, she interned for Big Rock and later accepted a full time role as Retail Assistant and Social Media Coordinator. She successfully grew the tournament’s seasonal retail store to a year round online operation. In 2017, she was promoted to the Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Tournament Director. Her passion and dedication landed her the Assistant Big Rock Tournament Director position in 2019 where she thrived alongside Crystal’s guidance. 

“I recognized Madison as a leader the first summer she worked for Big Rock. I am more than pleased to pass the baton to this talented, hard-working young woman and I sincerely know she will excel in her new role as Executive Director”, noted Crystal Hesmer.

The board of directors would like to thank Crystal Hesmer for 24 years of dedication as Executive Director. During her tenure, she made contributions that will continue to shape the Tournaments future. We are pleased this is not farewell:  Crystal will be taking a different role in the organization with details to follow in early 2022.

“I am excited to see Madison become director of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Since she originally joined the team, I have seen her grow into a confident leader who works well with participants, sponsors and staff. I look forward to seeing all she will accomplish in her new role.” Commented Randy Ramsey of Jarrett Bay Boatworks, the tournament’s Major Sponsor.

Current Big Rock Kids Tournament Director, Carlee Sharpe will fill Madison’s prior position as KWLA Tournament director.

For more information please contact Executive Director, Madison Struyk,




Congratulations to the CARTERICAN crew on their victory in the first ever N.C. Billfish Series! Lee Smith & team finished the season with a whopping 3378.6 points. BUILDER’S CHOICE followed close behind in 2nd place with 3300 points. THE GENERAL landed Top Charter Boat recognition with 2300 points and a 3rd place finish!

SERIES STATS! Of the 183 Billfish entered: 70 blue marlin, 76 white marlin, and 31 sailfish were released– a total of 6 blue marlin were weighed = 97% Release Rate!

Shoutout to Lisa Merriam on REEL QUICK (with 400 pts / 1 Blue Marlin) & Allison Struyk from the PIRACY (400 pts / 1 Blue Marlin) the Top Lady Anglers in the series!

Brown Gaddy on the QUALIFIER finished 1st in the Jr. Boy Angler category with 1325 pts / 3 Blue Marlin + 1 White Marlin. Vann Segrave followed in 2nd aboard RE-LEASED with 525 pts / 1 Blue Marlin + 1 Sailfish.

THE GENERAL’s, Gray Fickling, came out on top in the Jr. Girl Angler division with 375 pts / 3 sailfish. Addie Howard’s 28.5 lb. wahoo caught during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament earned the J&B crew 2nd place mentions!

Earlier this year, the eight N.C. Billfish Series tournaments teamed up with weigh masters Randy Gregory and George Lott to recognize and award the best tournament boats and anglers in North Carolina. The series went off without a hitch, aside from the Hatteras Grand Slam Tournament, which was forced to cancel with the approach of Hurricane Arthur. Four of the remaining seven tournaments were based out of Big Rock Landing downtown, including the Swansboro Rotary Memorial Day Bluewater Fishing Tournament, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, the Big Rock Kids Tournament and the N.C. Ducks Unlimited “Band the Billfish” Tournament.

“Morehead city is truly blessed to have a cool place to hold a billfish tournament,” Gregory said. “A lot of credit goes to the town and the Big Rock Tournament for putting that stuff together. It’s a town facility, and it’s pretty cool that we can have a venue like that to work with.”

The mission of the N.C. Billfish Series is to promote North Carolina’s billfish tournaments, sportsmanship, marine conservation and competition in our world renown offshore fishery. Competing boats are awarded points for billfish released or landed in the N.C. Billfish Series tournaments with trophies for the overall winner, top private and charter boat for the best three out of eight tournaments plus points for participating in each tournament. Trophies will be awarded for the largest blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo. A “special” award will be given to the boat with most total points (total points awarded for all tournaments) and individual awards will be given for outstanding junior boy, junior girl and lady angler.

Click here to view the final results of the 2021 N.C. Billfish Series!

(Photo by Point Click Fish, Supporting content provided by Carteret News Times article)


Congratulations to longtime Big Rock participant, SUSHI, on their HUGE win at the 48th Annual White Marlin Open!

“In the most dramatic finish in the 48- year history of the White Marlin Open, over $6 million dollars changed hands in the final hour of weigh-ins at Harbour Island Marina on Friday. Jarrett Bay Hull #40, FENDER BENDER, (also a past Big Rock participant & 3rd Place Winner), weighed the first fish of the tournament. Until the last 30-minutes, his 82.5-pound white marlin was winning $5,000,000! As the line of boats with fish to weigh dwindled to the final three, there was one boat flying a white marlin flag. It was the SUSHI out of Ocean City, MD with angler Butch Wright from Arnold, MD aboard. Wright’s white marlin tipped the scales at 85.5 pounds, taking $3,200,000 from FENDER BENDER, leaving them a very respectable $1,800,000.”

Captain Charley Pereira is no stranger to luck on the last day. Back in 2013, the crew aboard SUSHI caught a 276 lb bigeye tuna on the final day of the 40th Annual White Marlin Open- earning them a whopping $574,000!

SUSHI has made several appearances to Big Rock Landing over the years, including their 419.1 lb catch in 2013!

Their 2021 win at the WMO earned them a $3.2 payday = that’s over $37,000 per pound! Congrats to all the teams that competed in the WMO last week! Another record breaking billfish tournament in the books.

(Quote and supporting information from White Marlin Open, Photo from


That’s a wrap on the first ever Big Rock Kids Tournament, presented by Kurtis Chevrolet! The Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament was FULL of family, fun, & fishing!

A total of 59 boats registered for the 2021 Big Rock Kids Tournament! Over the course of 3 days, more than 200 junior anglers racked up: 44 billfish releases & weighed in 100 dolphin + 26 wahoo! Below are the final tournament results & prize payouts!

THE GENERAL claimed First Place in the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament after releasing 7 sailfish on Friday. This secured their wins as Daily Release WTA Friday Winner, Level I First Place Release Winner and Total Release First Place Winner. The total purse for THE GENERAL was $46,733 in earnings! Plus a $500 gift card sponsored by Bass Pro Shops!

The Ramsey Family aboard SKIRT CHASER earned Second Place with $49,033 in total earnings after securing: 2nd Place Total Release + 2nd Place Billfish Release + Daily Release WTA Saturday + First Place Dolphin!

BILL COLLECTOR took home Third Place with $12,480 in total earnings after securing: Level I Billfish Release + Total Release 3rd Place! It came down to the wire for their team as they fought a fish for 4 hours on the last day, squeezing in just enough time to get back with the release form. We know just how hard you must have worked, anglers!

INSPIRATION won the Daily Release prize on Thursday with 300 points (2 sailfish releases). THE GENERAL secured Friday’s Daily Release payout with a whopping SEVEN sailfish releases. SKIRT CHASER had an impressive final day, releasing 2 sailfish, and weighing a 28.2 lb Dolphin earning them daily release for Day 3 and put them in 2nd Place Overall in the release division with 600 points.

100 dolphin were weighed in during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament!
1st Place – Dolphin 28.2 lbs, Mary Frances Ramsey aboard SKIRT CHASER
2nd Place – Dolphin 24.9 lbs, Parker Gupton aboard JUPITER 34
3rd Place – Trey Black, 22.2 lbs
4th Place – Will Hanley, 22.1 lbs
5th Place – Miller Pleasant, 20.4 lbs
6th Place – Hanlon Abrams, 20.0 lbs
7th Place – Georgia Pope, 19.6 lbs
8th Place – Conner Barwick, 19.0 lbs
9th Place – Landon Wheeler, 18.7 lbs
10th Place – Jackson Huneycutt, 17.5 lbs

Thank you Bass Pro Shops for awarding the top angler with a $500 gift card

26 wahoo were weighed in during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament!
1st Place – Wahoo 34.7 lbs, Olivia Blount aboard ADIOS
2nd Place – Wahoo 28.5 lbs, Addie Howard aboard J&B
3rd Place – Craig Ferguson, 27.6 lbs
4th Place – Kelly Stephens, 27.1 lbs
5th Place – Sambo Bratton, 26.8 lbs
6th Place – Hanlon Abrams, 25.9 lbs
7th Place – Tucker Gupton, 25.6 lbs
8th Place – Myles Ivester, 24.3 lbs
9th Place – Isabel Waters, 23.9 lbs
10th Place – Collin Corellis, 22.1 lbs

Mary Frances Ramsey aboard SKIRT CHASER won Top Jr. Angler, Girl with 3 sailfish releases and a 28.2-pound dolphin during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament!

Charlie Ellington aboard REEL COUNTRY won Top Jr. Angler, Boy with 3 sailfish releases during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament!

Wendy Farrior aboard JOB SITE won Top Lady Angler with her 2 sailfish releases during the Inaugural Big Rock Kids Tournament!

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our winners & participants! Thank you sponsors for an INCREDIBLE tournament- we can’t wait for next year and look forward to seeing you all soon! For the complete payout summary & list of winners, click here.


BUILDER’S CHOICE came in and swept the competition with a GRAND SLAM to win 24th Annual KWLA Tournament! The Jarrett Bay Hull 59 weighed in a 33.9-lb Dolphin, putting them in the lead after the team released TWO blue marlin for 800 points. That puts them in 1st Place in Level I, Level II WTA Dolphin Winner AND Level III WTA Release.

Congratulations to our 2nd Place Winners, DOC FEES, and 3rd Place, SEA TOY!

A 32.9-lb dolphin earned REEL E BUGGING 2nd Place Dolphin. RELEASE captured the largest tuna, weighing 51.5-lbs, and BILL COLLECTOR followed in 2nd Place with a 47.8-lb catch.

NATURAL took home the largest wahoo prize for a 49.1-lb catch. OCEAN STINGER caught 2nd place with a 17.5-lb wahoo.

Congratulations to ALL our winners & THANK YOU to our Major Sponsor, BB&T / Now Truist + all tournament sponsors! Below is the complete leaderboard & payouts.


Participants came in HOT & HEAVY! The 2021 tournament hosted a RECORD-BREAKING 270 boats = 50 MORE than the previous record of 220 during the 41st Annual Big Rock back in 1999!

A record number of entries produced another RECORD-BREAKING purse totaling $4,749,200! Expectations were high going into Day 1 & the fleet did not disappoint! Participants delivered an ACTION PACKED week with 7 blue marlin appearances & 141 billfish releases!

After a year of virtual interaction, it was incredible to see the camaraderie between participants & genuine excitement from the community, again! A big THANK YOU to ALL of our participants, sponsors and supporters.

Below are the final tournament results & prize payouts!


⚠️ KWLA Tournament UPDATE! ⚠️

Due to the forecast for Saturday, June 12th, the tournament has made the decision to offer lady angler participants the option to fish on ONE of two days.

The KWLA tournament will remain a one-day only event, with the choice of fishing either Saturday OR Sunday from 8AM to 2PM. You MUST SUBMIT A LAYDAY FORM either electronically via the Big Rock App OR in-person at Tournament Headquarters prior to 8AM Saturday.

KWLA participants must register before Saturday morning to be eligible to fish either day. If you plan to fish on Sunday, your registration must be submitted with payment prior to 7AM on Saturday, June 12th.

Questions? Please contact either Crystal Hesmer, (252) 241-1515or Madison Maxwell, (252) 725-1568


Don’t miss any of the action! Subscribe to our YouTube channel for live streaming updates during all tournament weigh-ins, interviews & more!

Visit this link, sign in +/- create an account & “click” subscribe. Live streaming during tournament week will be available on our Facebook page & YouTube channel!

The action starts this Saturday with the 24th Annual KWLA Tournament, stay tuned!