The first fish won the first big prize and grabbed first place Monday on the first day of the 59th Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament being held out of Morehead City.
Local charter Run-Off secured $467,500 and the overall lead Monday by weighing in a 533.8-pound blue marlin. Captain Brian Harrington, first mate Marty Hiatt and Glen Allen, Va., angler Matt Hanley won the Level V Fabulous Fishermen winner-take-all prize for the event’s first blue marlin weighing 500 pounds or more.
White Caps extended the day’s suspense into the evening, but the Wilson-based team’s 417.7-pounder ranked third among the three blue marlin weighed. Weldor’s Ark, out of Swansboro, weighed a 484.9-pounder for second place on a day that also saw 35 blue marlin releases.
Entry-level upgrades and last-minute registrations pushed the field to 177 boats and the purse to $2,411,650, surpassing last year’s record $1.91 million. The winning blue marlin could be worth up to $1,161,450.
Teams may fish four of the six fishing days.
Follow the action at www.thebigrock.com or on Twitter @BigRockFishing.