The 61stannual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament gamefish (dolphin, tuna and wahoo) division has solidified in the final hours of competition and several teams will earn big money when checks are distributed at the awards ceremony Saturday night.
Big Rock competitors don’t normally target gamefish but a bycatch of these species can be special. A record $361,250 winner-take-all (WTA) dolphin prize is up for grabs for any boat that happens to catch the largest fish in that category.
Heading into the final hours of fishing, Job Site captain Bill Farrior, Farmville, holds the WTA lead with a 53.7-pound dolphin reeled in Monday by junior angler Michael Cripe.
Tuna and wahoo catches have been somewhat scarce this week but Big Rock anglers have managed to boat several big ones. Predator captain Chris Bennett, Frisco, put angler Wayne Wray on a 145.1-pound tuna Friday to take the overall lead in that division. Wray’s catch is worth $7,000 in daily and weekly prize money and is believed to be the biggest tuna caught during a Big Rock competition.
Uno Mas took the lead in the wahoo division Friday with a 59.3-pounder reeled in by Jeremy Certas. Uno Mas captain Brooks Smith, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Certas put their team in position to win $7,000 in daily and weekly gamefish prizes.
Sea Wolf (dolphin), Marsh Madness (tuna) and Bill Collector (wahoo) currently hold second place in those respective weekly gamefish divisions. Sea Wolf captain Donnie White, Kitty Hawk, and angler Tim Wood teamed to catch a 48.4-pound dolphin Monday. Marsh Madness captain Bob Marsh and junior angler Graham Marsh, Raleigh, teamed to reel in an 18.1-pound tuna Friday. Bill Collector captain Stephen Draughon, Morehead City, and junior angler Will Hanley caught a 56.5-pound wahoo Tuesday.
Competitors in the 61st Big Rock are allowed to fish four-of-six 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.