As competitors headed offshore Monday for the start of the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a final review of all entries confirmed 184 boats were entered and set to compete for a record purse of $2,869,050. The previous Big Rock record — set last year — was $2,560,925.
That means the potential first-place prize for a 500-pound blue marlin entered in all levels is $1,324,438.
The Level V Fabulous Fisherman’s prize for the first blue marlin over 500 pounds is worth $531,250. That’s why 181-of-184 boats in the field elected to fish on opening day.
Every level offers amazing prizes. The Winner-Take-All (WTA) dolphin category is $361,250. The billfish release purse is $282,626, not including daily prizes.
Last year, Honey Hush won the 60thBig Rock with a 518.5-pound blue marlin. Honey Hush grabbed the tournament lead on the second day of competition and held on to win $753,875. It was a tight competition throughout the week. The three fish that finished atop the blue marlin standings were separated by just 17.6 pounds.
Tight finishes are a common at the Big Rock. In 2013, Hatteras Fever II captured the 55th tourney when its 465.3-pound blue marlin catch topped the 423.8 pounder brought to the scales by Sensation. In 2017, Run-Off ran off with a record $1,161,450 prize because its 533.8-pound blue marlin weighed 27.8 pounds more than the runner-up catch by Rehab. These differences represent a couple meals when marlins are hungry.
Big Rock officials are also excited that eight current service members are set to go offshore on competitor boats. These service members were nominated to take part in the Big Rock Big Hero (BRBH) program, an event sponsored by Salt Life. The BRBH program was developed to provide an unforgettable fishing experience for men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country
Lines went in the water Monday at 9 a.m. for the first six hours of fishing in the six-day event. Teams are allowed to fish 4-of-6 days during the competition, captain’s choice.