The Big Rock Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament (KWLA) is gearing up for another record-breaking year as it celebrates its 22nd Annual event on June 7-8, 2019.
The KWLA Tournament is one of the largest ladies-only events in the world & serves as a launch pad from which the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament begins. Last year, the lady angler tournament set the stage in a big way with a record field of 161 boats. The KWLA tournament has set new records for boat counts in each of the last six years.
“It just keeps getting better!”, exclaimed KWLA Tournament Director, Madison Maxwell. “To be the second largest tournament in North Carolina, behind Big Rock, is incredible. We’re ready for this year to be even more epic than the last!”
Similar to the Big Rock Tournament in 2017, the KWLA Tournament will now require all blue marlin releases to be verified. To qualify for the 400 points, teams must turn in a Release Form in person along with indisputable video or photo evidence that the released billfish is a blue marlin. If the rules committee is unable to see indisputable evidence that the fish is a blue marlin, the release will be scored at 125 points.
The Winner Take All Billfish level was added to the KWLA line-up in 2018. 116 of the 161 boats participated in this new level. For an additional $500, participants can double their overall billfish release winnings. The Winner Take All Dolphin category is always a huge success with last year’s top team winning $71,151. There were no wahoo or tuna caught in the 21st Annual tournament; therefore, $5,701.51 from 2018 will rollover to 2019 for both the largest wahoo & largest tuna gamefish categories.
The Big Rock Lady Angler Tournament is proud to host a Big Rock, Big Hero during the 22nd Annual event. LTJG Jessica Tull is Chief of the Reserve Force Readiness System Staff in the United States Coast Guard. Before entering the service, Jessica was a school teacher at Bogue Sound Elementary. Jessica is stationed at Fort Macon and will be the first female to participate in the Big Rock, Big Hero experience.
The Big Rock Lady Angler tournament is named in honor of the late wife of Big Rock board member, Casey Wagner. The tournament was originally just called the “Lady Anglers Tournament,” but in 2008 when Keli Wagner lost her battle with cancer, the tournament decided to honor the longtime contributor by naming the event after her. Keli was enthusiastic about the success of this tournament and she played a vital role in having the tournament proceeds donated to the cancer clinic. To date, KWLA has donated a total of $303,916 towards the improvement of patient comfort and care.
The KWLA Tournament, sponsored by Alexseal Yacht Coatings, is a one-day billfish release tournament with lines dropping in at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 8th, 2019 and fishing ending at 2 p.m. The lady angler reception held on Friday, June 7th, 2019 is sponsored by Linda Rike Real Estate, and will serve as the official kick-off to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament and its 61st Annual Tournament. The most anticipated aspect of the kickoff party is the Best Dressed Contest with fishing teams dressed head-to-toe in vibrant, colorful costumes.
Last year, the tournament produced a record purse of $148,962.50 and made a $25,000 donation to the Carteret Health Care Cancer Center.