The seventh-place finisher was as ecstatic as a champion, and the champion hardly spoke like a guy who had a first-place trophy collection. When you weigh in a blue marlin at the Big Rock, the potential payoff thrills, but just reeling in the fish – well, that’s a coveted checkmark on the bucket list.
“A lot of people don’t ever get to fish the Big Rock. It was a dream come true for me,” said Josh Barnes, 35, of Archer Lodge, who has watched weigh-ins with his father since about age 5 and finally was in the fighting chair to reel in the seventh and final blue marlin weighed at the 57th Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament.
The 419.1-pound fish was boated Friday, the fifth of six days of competition June 8-13 off Morehead City. The catch aboard the 57-foot Island Boatworks vessel with captain Charley Pereira of Nags Head and first mate John Hurst from Georgetown, S.C., came after the fish hooked up five minutes before the 3 p.m. daily deadline and took nearly an hour to boat.
The leaderboard, though, remained topped by Hampton, Va., angler Earle Hall and Riviera Beach, Fla., captain Brian Komer with the eventual winning a 680-pounder caught aboard Viking 62 on opening day.
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“This is probably the catch of a lifetime for me,” said Hall, 57, who said he found a different exhilaration in catching a blue marlin than he experienced in winning seven world titles in a hydroplane racing career that included races on Raleigh’s Lake Wheeler.
Hall, a partner at Bluewater Yacht Sales, and the crew of the brand new Viking 62, a 62-foot demonstration boat for Viking Yachts Co. of New Gretna, N.J., won $560,500 from a $1,632,650 purse.
EZ Boy, with captain Van Pierce and angler Eric Kimball, both of Trinity, was second, earning $202,525 for a 556.3-pounder caught last Thursday. The 40-foot Winter Custom Yachts craft, built in Apex, also won the new Contender Boats/Starling Marine Outboard Level for $8,925 more.
Carly A, a 57-foot Johnson Boat Works Carolina Custom Sportfisherman out of Galloway, N.J., with captain Will Ross of Wanchese, finished third and won $134,350 with a 504.3-pounder boated after a six-hour, first-day fight by angler Adam Shack of Raleigh.
The top three were among seven blue marlin weighed by the 149 entries during a week that started with four weighed on the first day.
“It went really well. Several larger fish had been caught prior to our tournament, so everyone had the idea they might find a larger one after Monday,” said tournament director Crystal Hesmer, who said the event is expected to produce at least $100,000 for charity when bills are paid and accounting is complete.
Finishing out of the money was hardly a disappointment for Barnes, whose cost will approach $5,000 for entry and expenses for the boat chartered by friend Scott Hicks of Wendell.
His father, Paul Barnes of Wendell, enabled the dream trip by taking a week from his own job to fill in running the store started by Josh Barnes’ great-grandfather, C.E. Barnes, in 1927 in Archer Lodge.
“It was one of my bucket list, one of my wish things in life,” said Josh Barnes, whose previous best was a 20-pound red drum. “… I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
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57th Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament
With boat, weight or points, captain, angler, prize money
Blue Marlin Division
▪ Viking 62, 680 pounds, Brian Komer, Earle Hall, $560,500
▪ EZ Boy, 556.3, Van Pierce, Eric Kimball, $202,525
▪ Carly A, 504.3, Will Ross, Adam Shack (Raleigh), $134,350
Weekly Release Division
▪ Speculator (Level I), 2 blue marlin, 1 white, 925 points, $15,000
▪ Prime Time (Level V), 2 blue marlin, 800, $83,312.5
Level V Release Division
▪ Prime Time, 2 blue, 800, $83,312.50
▪ Accordingly IV, 2 blue, 800 $43,987.50
▪ Dancin Outlaw, 2 blue, 800 Thomas Wood, $29,325
Fabulous Fisherman’s Level
(first Level VII-entered blue marlin over 500 pounds to the scale)
▪ Shenandoah, Alan Willis, Robbie Stallings, $365,500
Contender/Starling Marine Outboard Level V III
▪ EZ Boy, 556.3, blue marlin, $8,925
▪ Reel Pleasure, 451.8, blue marlin $5,355
▪ Box Office, 1 blue marlin release, $3,570
Gamefish – Dolphin
Winner Take All
▪ Starling Marine, David Starling, Chad Shingleton (Clayton), 48.7 pounds, $110,500
▪ Looking Back, Ken Kramer, Wills Womack (Raleigh), dolphin 21
Complete results: www.thebigrock.com