As competitors headed offshore Monday for the start of the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a final review of all entries confirmed 184 boats were entered and set to compete for a RECORD PURSE of $2,869,050. The previous Big Rock record — set last year — was $2,560,925.
By the end of the week, anglers racked up 156 releases: 83 blue marlin, 54 white marlin, 17 sailfish and two spearfish. A total of 14 blue marlin were boated and weighed, resulting in a 91% overall release rate. DOC FEES and crew scored the 61st release of the 61st Big Rock to win the tournament’s special $6,100 prize. Competitors battled for $284,750 in weekly release prize money and $282,625 in daily release prizes! The Dolphin Winner-Take-All category reached a record $361,250 payout after increasing the level to $2,500 earlier this year!
TOP DOG became “Top of the World” on Day 6 when it landed a record breaking 914-pound blue marlin to WIN the 61st Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament! TOP DOG captain Ryan Knapp of Ocean City, Md., and angler Todd Dickerson, fought their catch for more than five hours and then needed an additional 90 minutes to get the 15-foot fish partially into their 60-foot Buddy Cannady. Dickerson’s catch crushed the Big Rock’s previous record of 831 pounds set in 2000 by the SUMMERTIME BLUES.
The whole crew and all the fans at the weigh station let out a mighty howl when the weight of the fish was announced to the crowd. The crew was dog tired, the catch looked a bit dog-eared after being squeezed through a tuna door but, doggone, it was a heckuva catch! TOP DOG won $793,188 from the Big Rock’s record $2,869,150 purse.
SWEETUMS captain Pete Rae, a former Morehead City resident, got a Texas-sized welcome Monday when he brought a 545.1-pounder to the weigh station at 1:10 p.m. to WIN the Fabulous Fisherman’s Level.
WOLVERINE’s catch on Day 1 landed them 2nd place and $289,863 from the Big Rock purse. WOLVERINE Captain Rocky Hardison, the winning mate at the 38th Big Rock in 1996, arrived at the scales with a 588.9-pound blue marlin!
Third place winner DONNA MAE, arrived at the weigh-station with a 569.9-pound blue marlin caught by angler Conner Pirrung & captained by James Luihn, both of Vero Beach, Florida.
1st Place Blue Marlin
TOP DOG, 914 pounds
Captain Ryan Knapp – Angler Todd Dickerson
2nd Place Blue Marlin
WOLVERINE, 588.9 pounds
Captain Rocky Hardison – Angler Cory Zieger
3rd Place Blue Marlin
DONNA MAE, 569.9 pounds
Captain Joe Webb – Angler James Luihn
Fabulous Fisherman’s Level Winner
SWEETUMS, 545.4 pounds
Captain Pete Rae – Angler Scott Dewolf
1st Place Weekly Release
ANNIE O, 1600 points
Captain Brad Sutton
2nd Place Weekly Release
DRILLIN & BILLIN, 1425 points
Captain Lee Martin
3rd Place Weekly Release
FULL PULL, 1200 points
Captain Ryan Riggs
DAY BOAT POINTS PRIZE MONEY
Monday FULL PULL 800 $56,525
Tuesday DRILLIN & BILLIN 1200 $56,525
Wednesday STARFLITE 400 $56,525
Thursday – – –
Friday VIKING 80 525 $56,525
Saturday GOOMBAY 800 $56,525
DAY BOAT CAPTAIN PRIZE MONEY
Monday STRING LINE Mark Schlenker $5,000
Tuesday GOOD TIMES Andy Piland $5,000
Wednesday ANNIE O Brad Sutton $5,000
Thursday – –