Celebrating 65 years of Big Rock with a $6,500 FUEL GIVEAWAY! Upon registering for the 65th Annual Big Rock Tournament, participants will automatically be entered to win a $6,500 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 14th 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. Don’t wait to fuel up!

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



Online Registration is now OPEN for both the 65th Annual Big Rock and 26th Annual KWLA Tournament(s). 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, 2023. 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 madison@thebigrock.com, (252) 725-1568
– For KWLA Registration assistance: Carlee Sharpe carlee@thebigrock.com, (919) 801-8346

To download 2023 Big Rock Rules, click here
To view 2023 Big Rock Entry Levels + Payouts, click here

To download 2023 KWLA Rules, click here


The Big Rock Kids Tournament & The Arts Council of Carteret County are pleased to announce that Emma Rodelsperger’s “Lookout Billfish” is the winner of the annual Jr. Art Contest! The art contest received 115 submissions from 8 states and 7 countries. 

Emma, age 13, is a Charleston, South Carolina native. She enjoys painting scenes of the saltwater marshes, birds and fish she sees in the lowcountry. To view more of her work, visit her Instagram page @erodels_art.

Emma’s older sister, Allie, was the 2022 Big Rock Kids featured artist. Emma, Allie, and their family attended the Big Rock Tournament and participated in the 2nd Annual Big Rock Kids Tournament. Emma gained inspiration from competing in the tournament and witnessing Allie release her first Blue Marlin aboard the MISS WY. 

After the tournament, Emma designed the illustration on her I-Pad, keeping in mind what details would look good on the tournament t-shirt. Once selecting an eye-catching color palette, Emma took her design to canvas and “Lookout Billfish” was born. The piece is 16”x20” acrylic on canvas. Emma stated the title “Lookout Billfish” is a play on words, incorporating Cape Lookout and that marlin should be on the lookout for the sportfishers after a big catch! 

Emma’s art will be featured on the 3rd Annual Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament T-Shirt coming Spring of 2023, and will receive a $500 prize for her masterpiece. “Lookout Billfish” will be up for auction at the Big Rock Kids awards Banquet on Saturday, July 15, 2023. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains which serves nearly 1,300 children.

In addition to Emma’s painting, three additional pieces were selected as honorable mentions. Two of the pieces came from Jody Stouffer’s art class at Croatan High School. Trammell’s “Big Rock” shows a sportfisher heading out to fish in the early morning sunrise. Lee’s “Big Rock Sunset” features the charter fleet on the Morehead City waterfront.  Luna P., age 9, created “Splash” a unique seashell mosaic featuring a marlin jumping. 

The Big Rock Kids & The Arts Council of Carteret County would like to extend appreciation to the Jr. Artists that submitted a piece, and the parents, teachers, and friends that encouraged the young artists to participate. Submissions will be displayed at the Carolina Artist Gallery Student Show from April 17th – May 13th, 2023, for more information visit www.artscouncilcarteret.org


For the second year in a row, the Big Rock Foundation has contributed $1 million to charity! Following a record-breaking tournament season with industry record payouts, the real winners this year are Big Rock charities.

“With the phenomenal success of the tournaments, we are blessed to be able to make such a significant impact on our community through tournament participation, sponsor support, and retail sales.” stated Madison Struyk, Executive Director.

Recipients gathered at Big Rock Landing for a Giving Tuesday ceremony, announcing the grand contribution. “As I look around, I see the fabric of our great community. First responders, teachers, healthcare workers, and the great organizations that makeup Morehead City” commented Tournament President, Emery Ivey.

The Big Rock Foundation continued to support Carteret County Schools this year with a contribution of $376,000 to various schools. The Carteret County School System has received over $1.3 million in funding over the past 35 years.

The Big Rock Foundation designates $140,000 to a group of core charities and encourages other organizations to apply for grants for higher-impact projects.

Determining who will receive funding is a difficult task. “We run out of money before we run out of good causes”, explained Foundation Director, Crystal Hesmer. “We continue to seek further outside funding through private donations to enable the foundation to give even more to the community.”

The volunteer based, 18-member Big Rock Board of Directors, dedicate their time and efforts to ensure the tournament is able to make charitable contributions annually. The board president appoints a charity committee each year to carefully review all requests for funding. The entire process is driven by the fit between Big Rock’s five-point mission statement and the destination of the year’s charitable funds. The 2022 Tournament Charity Committee consisted of Tommy Bennett- Chairman, Curtis Strange, Joy Bell, Billy Kornegay, Emery Ivey, and Caroline Petrilli.

To donate, please visit https://www.thebigrock.com/charities/ or shop to support at The Big Rock Store, www.thebigrockstore.com. For further information, contact Foundation Director, Crystal Hesmer at crystal@thebigrock.com.


-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


-Arts Council of Carteret County, $10,000
-Beaufort Elementary School, $50,000
-Beaufort Middle School, $65,000
-Bogue Sound Elementary School, $78,000
-Bridge Down East, $60,000
-Carteret Preschool, $20,000
-Croatan High School Track and Field, $18,000
-Crystal Coast Cancer Rehabilitation, $10,000
-Delta Health Foundation, $10,000
-East Carteret High School Band, $50,000
-Gramercy Christian School, $30,000
-Hope is Alive Ministries, $50,000
-Mile of Hope Foundation, $5,000
-Military Appreciation Day, $10,000
-Misplaced Mutts, $5,000
-Morehead City Fire/EMS, $12,000
-Morehead City Little League, $47,000
-Morehead City Primary Schools, $55,000
-Newport Middle School, $40,000
-Tag-A-Giant- Tag Bluefin Tuna, $65,000
-The History Place, $143,000

KWLA Tournament Announces Pelagic as NEW Major Sponsor

Contact: Carlee Sharpe, KWLA Tournament Director carlee@thebigrock.com

KWLA Tournament Announces Pelagic as NEW Major Sponsor

World-Renowned Sportfishing Brand Steps into the Presenting Sponsor Role

Morehead City, NC (October 22, 2022) – The Big Rock Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Tournament is pleased to introduce Pelagic Gear, a cutting-edge tactical fishing apparel brand, as the Major Sponsor for the 2023, 2024, and 2025 tournament seasons.

“Pelagic is recognized by anglers around the world as a top-performing brand. As such wonderful ambassadors of the sportfishing lifestyle, we are thrilled to incorporate Pelagic into the lady-angler community that the KWLA tournament represents,” stated Tournament Director, Carlee Sharpe.

Pelagic Gear was founded in 2002, off the coast of Newport Beach, California. In its 20 years of operation, Pelagic has remained true to its roots by providing unique and top-of-the-line performance gear. Pelagic offers product lines for all anglers including men, women, youth, and polarized optics. Pelagic’s mission is to unite a global community of men and women with a brand name that unifies a love for fishing and the ocean. 

“Pelagic Gear is proud to support all women anglers and excited to be a Major Sponsor of the KWLA.  We look forward to a long relationship with KWLA and watching the event grow!” states Pelagic President, Chris Raya. 

As part of the Major Sponsorship Package, Pelagic will be featured on KWLA apparel and printed collateral. In addition, Pelagic wholeheartedly supports KWLA’s mission of promoting women in competitive sport fishing as well as giving back to the community. 

Since 1998, the KWLA Tournament has become one of the largest lady-angler billfish tournaments in the world. In 2022, the tournament had a record-breaking attendance of 215 boats. The 1,200 lady anglers competed for a grand purse of $318,750, a new tournament record!

The Big Rock KWLA Tournament is devoted to raising charitable dollars to benefit local cancer treatment centers. To date, KWLA has donated a total of $424,415.50 towards the improvement of patient comfort and care.

Together, KWLA and Pelagic, look forward to building a bigger and better lady angler tournament in the years to come! 

SAVE THE DATE: The 26th Annual KWLA Tournament will kick-off on Friday, June 9th with the Lady Angler Party featuring the fan-favorite costume contest followed by one day of fishing, Saturday, June 10th, 2023. 


Calling ALL Jr. Artists (18 & Under) 

The Big Rock Kids Tournament has partnered with the Arts Council of Carteret County to present the 2nd Annual Jr. Art Contest! Contestants ages 18 & under must create an original piece that incorporates some elements of sportfishing including but not limited to: marlin, gamefish, boats, etc.

Submissions must be turned in to Big Rock Headquarters (710 Evans St. Morehead City, NC 28557) by November 10th. Art may be dropped off Monday – Saturday 10AM – 5PM or mailed directly to the Big Rock office.

The winning piece will receive $500 and will be considered for the 2023 Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament T-Shirt.

In 2021, the contest received over 60 submissions from skilled young artists ranging from 6-17. Many thanks go to each artist that submitted a piece last year, we encourage all to participate! 

Questions? Email carlee@thebigrock.com



Congratulations to WELDOR’S ARK for winning the 2022 NC Billfish Series and Top Private Boat award. The crew aboard the 55′ Jarrett Bay racked up a total of 3300 points across the series of participating tournaments. FIN PLANNER finished in 2nd place with 3000 points, and claimed the Top Charter Boat title.

The Big Rock Tournament is proud to be an NC Billfish Series participating tournament. Also included in the series: Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Swansboro Rotary Blue Water Fishing Tournament, Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament, Hatteras Grand Slam, Big Rock Kids Tournament, Ducks Unlimited Billfish Tournament and Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament.

Each year, the eight NC Billfish Series tournaments team up with weigh masters Randy Gregory and George Lott to recognize and award the best tournament boats and anglers in North Carolina. The mission of the NC 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 NC Billfish Series tournaments with trophies for the overall winner, top private boat, top charter boat, and top outboard 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. Individual awards will be given for outstanding junior boy, junior girl and lady angler.

The 2022 series finished with an overall release rate of 99% and a total of 205 billfish recorded across the eight participating tournaments. There were 128 blue marlin caught from the 205 billfish, 125 of which were released. Also included in the total billfish release count were 37 white marlin and 40 sailfish.

2020 Big Rock Winner, PELAGIC HUNTER II, was named Top Outboard Boat with 1350 points after taking home 1st Place in the Outboard Division during the 2022 Big Rock Tournament (for the 3rd year in a row!)

Junior Angler Emma Kate Kleinhans’ 38.9 lb. catch during the 2nd Annual Big Rock Kids Tournament earned DEVELOPIN’ HABITS the Largest Dolphin this year! Both APRIL MAE and DESPERADO secured titles in the NC Billfish Series for fish landed during this year’s Big Rock tourney! APRIL MAE clinched the Top Wahoo spot with a 50.2 lb. catch and DESPERADO’s 131.2 pounder won Top Tuna by a landslide!

The 2022 Top Junior Anglers earned their points during Big Rock Kids— Top Boy Jr. Angler goes to Will Hanley off LABRADOR with 1 blue marlin and 2 sailfish releases & Top Girl Jr. Angler goes to Sailor White for her blue marlin release aboard WELDOR’S ARK. Congrats to Top Lady Angler, Sara Hanna Fortier, off FIN PLANNER with 1 blue marlin & 1 sailfish release.

To view the 2022 NC Billfish Series Final Standings, CLICK HERE


The win is a DONE DEAL for the 2nd Annual Big Rock Kids Billfish Tournament. After 3 Blue Marlin releases DONE DEAL takes home the 1st place title and $57,500 (Level I + Level II + Level III Saturday Release WTA)

DUE SOUTH scored 2nd Place with 1 Blue Marlin, 3 Sails, and 1 (unverified) Blue Marlin release for a $21,985 payday. FIN PLANNER secured their 3rd Place spot with 2 Blue Marlin releases worth $12,990. DEVELOPIN’ HABITS shook up the leaderboard today with a 38.9lb Dolphin, earning the crew $17,595. BIG TROUBLE was bumped to 2nd Place, their 31.1lb Dolphin payed out $11,730.

FIN PRINT’s 32.3lb catch was the first Wahoo to the scales and secured 1st Place worth $16,830. For the second year in a row, J&B finished 2nd in the Wahoo division taking home $11,220.

Within two days of fishing, 275 Jr. anglers racked up 40 releases and brought 115 gamefish (wahoo & dolphin) to the scales!

Click HERE to view the payouts!

Big Rock Makes History with Record Payout

Virginia Team Wins Over 3.4 Million Dollars in Prize Money with the Event’s Top Catch

Morehead City, NC (July 7, 2022) – Along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament recently celebrated 64 years of action-packed offshore competition with a record-breaking purse and top prize payout. This year, 266 teams and over 1,500 competitors vied for a piece of the impressive $5,858,875 purse, and the winning team was able to stack up a total payout of $3,489,813 – a record only surpassed by one other event in all of billfishing’s tournament history.

Day 1 of the tournament started off hot, with Captain Neil Sykes of the 72-foot Viking, “MERCENARIA” and angler Matthew Brown weighing a 572.6-pound blue marlin. Their entry into the Fabulous Fisherman division of the tournament immediately ensured them at least $777,750 for bringing the first blue marlin to the scales weighing over 500-pounds. 

Teams fish four of the six days (captain’s choice) of the tournament and can enter in as many of the eleven eligible divisions as they prefer, each with unique payout opportunities. Although seven additional blue marlin were brought to the scales at Big Rock Landing throughout the 6-day tournament, none could unseat the 572.6-pound fish weighed by “MERCENARIA” on the first day. The team’s first place blue marlin along with their Fabulous Fisherman prize added up to winnings of $3,489,813. Other popular billfish tournaments have had larger participant fields and total purses available, but only once has a single participating team won a calcutta of prizes this large. 

NBA & North Carolina basketball icon, Michael Jordan, also added to the Day 1 excitement, backing into Big Rock Landing in Morehead City aboard his 80-foot Viking yacht, “CATCH 23” and weighing a 24-pound mahi. Jordan went on to release two blue marlin during the tournament.

The tournament’s record number of participants and payout have grown greatly especially over the last two decades, as organizers were some of the first to integrate internet broadcasting and social media updates into their operations. The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is one of the only tournaments to broadcast their VHF radio feed live for listeners around the world. Captain Randy Ramsey, the voice of Big Rock Radio, communicates with the boat captains and keeps the audience updated to the second with hookups and releases and the occasional boated blue marlin. This year, nearly 1 million listeners from 60 countries tuned in to Big Rock Radio to keep tabs on the action. Big Rock TV also features daily live stream video sessions and racked up over 2 million viewers in 71 countries this year. Viewership of the first day’s live stream far surpassed average thanks to celebrity angler Michael Jordan and a cameo appearance by PGA golf legend and fellow sportfisherman Curtis Strange.

The Big Rock is not just a week-long sportfishing tournament or unique spectating destination, it is also a charitable foundation that gives to the local community throughout the year. Total charitable contributions since The Big Rock Foundation formed in 1986 exceed $7.5 million. The impressive charitable donations throughout Carteret County and coastal North Carolina are additionally made possible in part by the generosity of over 65 tournament sponsors and other supporters including Major Sponsor and world-renowned custom boat builder, Jarrett Bay Boatworks, headquartered in nearby Beaufort, North Carolina. 

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament also places a strong focus on conservation, going above and beyond federal and IGFA regulations for angling, release and boating of billfish. The tournament regularly exceeds a 90-percent billfish release rate with the 64th Annual edition hitting 96.5-percent with eight blue marlin weighed and 226 billfish (blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish) released. The Big Rock is a proud participating tournament in the North Carolina Billfish Series, which rewards sportsmanship & marine conservation. 

MORE NOTABLE WINS for this year’s tournament include the 63-foot Spencer Yacht, “WALL HANGER” claiming second place for heaviest blue marlin with lady angler Stacy Allen weighing a 556.4-pound fish, earning her team $426,288. “HIGH YIELD”, a 57-foot Spencer landed in third Place with a 536.8-pound blue marlin caught by Bernard Linney with a cash payout of $283,525. The Winner-Take-All division for dolphin fish (mahi) was captured by angler Parker Jones aboard the “CAROLINA TIME”, a 56-foot Gwaltney. Their 54.1-pound mahi was worth $527,000. 

This is the seventh consecutive year the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament has welcomed outboard engine-powered boats as entrants, and Captain John Cruise III and the team aboard their 35 Contender, “PELAGIC HUNTER II” secured the lead in the Outboard Division and Winner-Take-All Release in the Outboard category earning a generous payout of $42,500!

Captain Rodney “moon” Crossman and his team aboard the 72-foot Viking, “SAFARI” won the Weekly Release Division worth $112,625 combined with their Daily Release prize of $75,082 totaling a cash prize of $187,707. The 63-foot Jarrett Bay, “MARLIN FEVER” tied with the 62-foot Viking, “IRENE” with 1,200 points in the Non-Sonar Release Division but “IRENE” took first place on time, and a total payout of $172,479. Captain Cameron Guthrie and the team aboard “MARLIN FEVER” enjoyed a cash prize of $77,775 for their second-place finish in the Non-Sonar Release Division.

As the 64th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament continues to grow its global following and offshore participant base, so will the charitable efforts throughout the communities the Big Rock Foundation serves. The Big Rock Board of Directors are grateful for the support of so many world-class teams, businesses and organizations, and look forward to June 12, 2023, for the kick-off of the 65th Annual tournament!

CLICK HERE to view the entire leaderboard & total prize payouts!

# # #

About Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

Headquartered in Morehead City, North Carolina, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is more than just an annual event. The mission of Big Rock is to work diligently to promote sportfishing throughout Carteret County and the state of North Carolina while also focusing on conservation among sportfishermen. Exceeding $7.5 million in total contributions since 1986, Big Rock charitable giving helps support worthy community projects, promote marine education, and preserve maritime culture and heritage. The Big Rock, Big Hero program presented by SALT LIFE was created in 2018 to honor active-duty servicemen and women. These loyal members of our military are treated to an unforgettable fishing adventure aboard a world class sportfishing boat alongside elite anglers that are honored to welcome them aboard. The Big Rock also operates one of the largest ladies-only events in the world: The Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Tournament. The record-breaking 25th Annual Tournament hosted 215 boats & paid $318,750 in prize money, one of the industry’s largest payouts for a one-day tournament. The KWLA tournament donates proceeds towards the improvement of cancer patient comfort and care in Carteret County. The Big Rock Kids Tournament enjoyed its inaugural year in 2021 with 59 boats and over 200 participating junior anglers. This tournament aims to promote sport fishing among a new generation of anglers while benefiting children’s charities in Eastern North Carolina. To learn more about the Big Rock tournaments and charitable giving, visit thebigrock.com.


That’s a wrap on the 64th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament! 266 boats competed for a record breaking purse of $5,858,875. MERCENARIA claimed the top prize of $3,489,813, an industry record after securing $777,750 in the Fabulous Fishermans division + the Super 20 division worth $1,156,000 for the 572.6lb. fish caught on Day 1 of the tournament. WALL HANGER’S Lady Angler, Stacy Allen claimed 2nd Place for her $556.4lb. Blue Marlin, earning her team $426,288. HIGH YIELD landed in 3rd Place with a 536.8lb. catch taking home $283,525.

CAROLINA TIME captured the Dolphin WTA Division with a 54.1lb. bull worth $527,000. REEL TIME weighed a 43.0lb dolphin today claiming their spot as the 2nd Place Dolphin overall winner.

SPECULATOR’S 104.7lb Wahoo won the weekly prize of $5,000. FISHY BUSINESS slid into second place weighing a 66.4lb Wahoo this afternoon.

DESPERADO claimed the Tuna weekly division worth $5,000 for their impressive 131.2lb. catch. FLY N FISH gave the Desperado a run for their money weighing in a hefty 121.1lb. monster this afternoon.

SAFARI won the weekly Level VIII Release Division worth $112,625 + 75,082 (daily release prize money) taking home a grand total of $187,707. CUERVOS captured the Day 6 release prize worth $37,541 for two blue marlin releases.

IRENE claimed the Level IX Non Sonar Release Division earning $129,625 + $42,854 totaling $172,479 in overall prize money. CUERVOS claimed an additional $42,854 in daily release money for Day 6 of the tournament.

PELAGIC HUNTER II showed up and showed out by claiming the Outboard division going home with $42,500.

REEL TIME weighed the heaviest dolphin of the day at 43.0lbs, taking the $2,000 daily prize and claiming the second place spot for the week! INSPIRATION weighed a 19.6lb dolphin taking second place for the day and the $1,000 prize money.

​​FISHY BUSINESS took the lead today with their 66.4lb. wahoo, bumping LADY DIANNE out of second place overall for the week. This catch earned them the $2,000 daily prize. PARI followed in second after weighing in a 27.4lb. wahoo, taking home $1,000.

As the week comes to a close, we would like to thank our Participants, Sponsors, and Supporters for making the 64th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament the BEST Tournament in the WORLD.