MOREHEAD CITY N.C. – Honey Hush, captained by Chuck Lindner, Morehead City, grabbed the second-day lead of the 60th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament with a 518.5-pounder reeled in by angler Robert Gorrell.
The Honey Hush is in position to win $753,875 from the Big Rock’s $2,560,925 purse if it can hold onto the tournament lead through the final four days of fishing. Honey Hush would have won a guaranteed $501,500 for being first to the scales with a blue marlin that weighed 500 pounds or more but elected not to enter that winner-take-all Level V category of the competition. The winner-take-all prize is still available as the Big Rock approaches its midpoint.
Gorrell’s catch was somewhat unusual in that it required just a 41-minute fight and began with a zig-zag start.
“We were checking for grass in the lines when someone yells out ‘right teaser,’” said Gorrell. “We scrambled and (boat owner) Rob (Warren) threw out some pitch bait. Rob was trying to draw the blue marlin closer. Then nothing … it looked like it was gone.
“Then, all of a sudden, it shows up in the left teaser … and hits the left-short rigger. That’s when the fight was on.”
Gorrell, stepson of Big Rock past president Billy Kornegay, drew on nearly 20 years of Big Rock experience to reel in his catch. This was Gorrell’s first visit to the Big Rock scales with a blue marlin catch and it turned out to be everything he dreamed of.
“My roommate from college, Thomas Strange, was here at the weigh station and that surprised me,” Gorrell said. “My mom (Marci) was here … other friends. It was very special.”
A crowd of several thousand cheered for the Honey Hush as the boat backed into the weigh station and yelled even louder when the weight of the fish was announced. Gorrell was later swarmed by TV reporters and grinned widely as he told the details of the strike.
Earlier in the day, Game Changer, captained by Geoff Rosenberry, Bluffton, SC, took the tournament’s inaugural lead with a 409.2-pound blue marlin. Angler Michael Perry brought that fish to gaff after a 63-minute fight.
Rosenberry made the decision to take the fish almost immediately since the Big Rock leader board was wide open and weather looked troublesome for Wednesday.
“When the fish jumped the first time we figured it was 400 pounds on the dot,” said Rosenberry. “I guess we’ve got pretty good eyes … but we’ve done this once or twice in our lives.”
Rosenberry, Perry and the crew have been fishing together for 15 years. Their current catch is worth $262,400 if they can stay in second place.
Freestyle, captained by Kenny Sexton, Manteo, tallied the first release of the day to win $5,000. Shenandoah, captained by Alan Willis, Morehead City, released two blue marlins to win the Tuesday Level VIII daily release of prize $48,521.
Crews from 132-of-183 boats went offshore Tuesday to try to be first to land a big blue marlin. Since the Level V prize of $501,500 is still up for grabs, there may be a push to go offshore Wednesday despite projected rough conditions.
Syked Out, owned by Dave Sykes, Isle of Palms, SC, won the second 60th Big Rock Rolex watch drawing conducted shortly after the second fishing day came to an end. Four other fishing teams have a shot to win a Rolex each day after lines are pulled from the water.
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. until 3 p.m., except Saturday when the fishing hours are 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Any fight that starts before the end-of-day deadline can continue until the hook-up reaches a resolution.