Winning the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament is all about being in the right place at the right time.
And two days into the 55th annual tournament in Morehead City, the leader remained a catch from the first day of the event.
Sensation, captained by Dale Britt out of Morehead City, took the advantage Monday with a 423.8-pound blue caught by angler Trey Siner of Concord after a 109-minute fight.
“We measured it in the water and the measurement in the water did not compare to the measurement on the boat, so I was concerned,” Britt told officials at the weigh station. “The fish came up tail-wrapped. We fought it for a long time, and unfortunately the fish died. We hoped it would make the weight because it didn’t make the length. Thank the good Lord it did.”
Siner said Sensation mate Alan Scibal of Morehead City and the entire crew for helping land the big one.
“To catch a blue marlin like this in the Big Rock? That’s a bucket list thing right there,” Siner said. “It’s early in the week, and a lot can happen. But right now I feel real good.”
In each of the last two years and three of the last four, the tournament’s winning fish was caught on the first day.
Tuesday turned out to have rough fishing weather, as 90 of the 100 boats in the competition submitted “lay day” forms. Boats are allowed to compete on just four of the six days in the tournament, which concludes Saturday afternoon.
Pelagic, with Mike Webb as captain, captured Tuesday’s Gregory Poole first release of the day with a white marlin at 12:43 p.m., and it turned out to be the only billfish anyone hooked that day.
“The second day was almost a total blowout offshore,” tournament spokesman Bruce Paul said of the winds that reached 25 knots and agitated 4-6-foot waves. “The wind really rocked the boats around.”
Alan Carroll of Smithfield, fishing off Magic Moment, had a big day Tuesday. Not only did he reel in a 65.8-pound wahoo to take the lead in that category, but also hooked a 32.2-pound dolphin fish to place second in that daily prize division
“This was my first time being out in seas like that,” Carroll said in a tournament release. “We weren’t where we wanted to be when they called ‘Lines in the water!’ But we put lines in and trolled out to 100 fathoms and picked up the wahoo about 9:30 a.m.
“The wahoo was awesome. It was wearing my arm out and everyone was yelling ‘Keep cranking! Keep cranking!’ I don’t know what these guys do when they get a big marlin on and fight it for two hours.”
Sensation finished Day 2 in position to win up to $494,710 from the total purse, depending on what happens during the final 2/3 of the competition – as well as on the weather.
Scattered thunderstorms are expected in the Morehead City area Thursday and Saturday, producing cooler pockets of water in the Gulf Stream that may enhance billfishing conditions. But they may or may not be too late for the anglers.
The Goin’ Deep, captained by Manteo’s Kenny Sexton, led the dolphin division with a 48.8-pounder caught by Andy Eaton of Virginia Beach.
The Irish Ayes, captained by Wilmington’s Brent Johnston, held the first two places in the tuna category led by a 59.5-pounder reeled in by Don Bartenfelder of Manchester, Md.