Gamefish catch tops Big Rock day

MOREHEAD CITY N.C. – The 60th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament heads into its final two days with competitors knowing that more than half of the record $2,560,925 purse is still up for grabs.

That’s bad news for the 23 boats that are fished out, but great news for the 81 boats that still have two days left to fish. Anglers on 102-of-183 boats in the field must take a one more lay day – either Friday or Saturday – in what’s shaping up to be a shootout.

Thursday turned out to be a great day for gamefishing. Goombay, captained by Brian Peele, Salter Path, put angler Jeff Ross on a 71.1-pound dolphin to take the lead in that division. Goombay is in position to win the $146,200 winner-take-all dolphin prize plus $7,000 in daily and other weekly prizes.

Sarcastic, captained by Jonathan Rose, Burlington, and angler Gary Teer grabbed the Wahoo division lead with a catch that tipped the scales at 74.4 pounds. The Sarcastic catch is worth $7,000 in daily and weekly prizes.

While gamefish action took center stage, blue marlin action slowed. None of the 118 boats entered in the Level V Fabulous Fishermen division have been able to find a 500-pound blue marlin. A 500-pounder is worth $501,500 to the first Level V boat to weigh one in. More on this in five paragraphs.

Honey Hush, captained by Chuck Lindner, Morehead City, has held the Big Rock blue marlin division lead since Tuesday with a 518.5-pounder reeled in by angler Robert Gorrell. Honey Hush is in position to win $753,875 from the Big Rock’s purse if it can hold onto the tournament lead two more days.

Game Changer, captained by Geoff Rosenberry, Bluffton, SC, took the tournament’s inaugural lead Tuesday with a 409.2-pound blue marlin reeled in by angler Michael Perry. Game Changer was bumped down the standings by Honey Hush but is in position to receive $262,400 if they can stay in second place.

Rare Breed, captained by Bubba Simmons, Mt. Pleasant, SC, holds third place with a 400.4-pounder caught by 16-year-old angler E.J. Nettles, Charleston. Nettles’ catch is worth $174,300 if there are no changes to the blue marlin leaderboard.

Fishing teams that elected to go offshore Thursday probably wish that they hadn’t. Anglers released three blue marlin, two white marlin and four sailfish. No blue marlins were boated for the second straight day.

Since there are only two days left for Level V participants to weigh in a blue marlin that weighs 500 pounds or more, it’s become necessary to consider what happens to the $501,500 prize if the tie breaker comes into play. If no qualifying fish is weighed in, the total amount of prize money will be paid to “the boat entered in this category attaining the most release points.”

That sets up the potential for a crazy payday.

Currently, Wallhanger, a boat captained by Gary Blount, Greenville, is set to win a total of $706,958 including the $501,500 Level V prize money. Wallhanger, a boat owned by Brian Allen, Raleigh, released three blue marlins and one white marlin to tally 1,325 release points.

Wallhanger and the next top three boats in the overall release standings are fished out as of Thursday. That means every boat with a day or two to fish know exactly what number they need to beat.

Carterican, captained by Lee Smith, Morehead City, tallied the first release of the day to win $5,000. Double B, captained by Harry Smith, Greenville, was first to score 400 release points with the release of a blue marlin to win the $48,521 Thursday Level VIII daily release of prize $48,521.

Haphazard, a boat owned by Hap Royster, Winston-Salem, won the fourth 60th Big Rock Rolex watch drawing conducted after fishing ended Thursday. Two more fishing teams have a shot to win a Rolex Submariner after lines are pulled from the water Friday and Saturday.

Competitors in the 60th Big Rock are allowed to fish four-of-six fishing 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.