Don’t look for Big Rock Landing in its usual place on the Morehead City waterfront. The home of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament has moved four blocks west.
The venue is brand new – as is the sign that went up eight days ago. The first event was last Saturday, when a 77-foot Jarrett Bay called Mama Who delivered James Wesley, singer of the new Big Rock anthem “Hooked Up,” for a kickoff concert at the weigh station near the intersection of Shepard and Evans streets.
Competition starts this Saturday with the Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament, and fishing in the 57th annual Big Rock runs June 8-13.
The two-story headquarters, including a store, sits at 710 Evans St., just yards from a blue marlin fountain installed two years ago at the intersection.
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“We’ve always had sort of an office with the T-shirts in it,” tournament director Crystal Hesmer said Monday. “Now we have a retail store with our offices behind it, and upstairs is a meeting room for ours and other tournaments.”
Sales and sponsorships support charities.
“The reason that we exist is that we are a charitable tournament that has given more than $3 million to the community and each year budgets to do just that,” Hesmer said.
In the tournament, the purse could reach $1 million for the 18th year. The field is expected to exceed the 120 boats that competed for $1.4 million last year, when Inspiration captain Casey Wagner of Morehead City and angler Bruce Brown of Nags Head won $306,127 for weighing in a 754.3-pound blue marlin.
With boats from Texas to Massachusetts, the entry list grows as the Sunday deadline nears and weather-watching teams decide to put up the fee, which starts at $2,500 and goes to $19,000 for all levels.
Entry is $3,500 for a new division for smaller boats, the Contender-Starling Marine outboard category with a guaranteed $10,000 prize.
Van Pierce has entered his Atlantic Beach-based outboard EZ Boy, a 40-foot Winter Custom Yachts vessel built in Apex and named for the recliners Pierce manufactured for 22 years in High Point.
“Fish don’t know how big that boat is. They could care less,” he said. “They’re after … what you’re feeding them.”
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