A steady stream of competitors registered Sunday for the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament as officials competed a review of entries and prize money in North Carolina’s largest and richest offshore tournament.
By 2:45 p.m., 150 boats were entered and the Big Rock purse had ballooned to $2,432,575 for the tournament that runs Monday through Saturday out of Morehead City.
Sign-ups ran through Monday at 9 a.m., and will push the purse higher with each entry. The potential first-place prize for a 500-pound blue marlin entered in all levels is $1,116,188.
The billfish release purse is also impressive, offering more than $240,126 to the top finishing competitors. This total will also continue to grow.
Last year, Honey Hush, captained by Chuck Lindner, Morehead City, and angler Robert Gorrell 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 from a record $2,560,925 purse. 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 on the feed.
Big Rock officials are excited eight current service members are all set to go offshore on competitor boats. These service members were nominated to take part in the Big Rock Big Hero program, an event sponsored by Salt Life, which was developed to provide an unforgettable fishing experience for men and women who have sacrificed so much for this country
Registration and upgrades will end Monday at 9 a.m. when lines go in the water on day one.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.