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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Brings Reel Excitement to the Crystal Coast

The 54th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament boasts big boats, big fish, and big fun for its participants and spectators alike. Tournament festivities kick off this week beginning on Friday, June 8 and run through Saturday, June 16. Fishing days run from June 11-16 from 9a.m. to 3p.m. (2p.m. on Saturday) and the scales close daily at 7p.m. (6p.m. on Saturday) for game-fish.
Known as one of the largest sport-fishing tournaments in the country, Big Rock traditionally draws large crowds and lures hundreds of competitors to fish the open waters in search of the big one. (Last year's winning blue marlin weighed in at 652.8 pounds and the tournament record-holder was a whopping 831 pounds—so when we say big, we mean BIG.)

Big Rock has an interesting history. There was a point in time when blue marlin fishing was thought to occur in places like the Gulf of Mexico but not in the coastal waters of North Carolina. Though there were rumors and fish tales of blue marlin sightings in the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream just south of Morehead City by the sailors that frequented the Morehead City Port, they were dismissed as just that—rumors. 

It wasn't until September of 1957 that Raleigh angler Jimmy Croy caught a 143-pound blue marlin in the offshore waters of Morehead City and changed the rumors to reality. This is the catch that launched the Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament into an annual event.

But how did the tournament get the name Big Rock, you ask? Those warm Gulf Stream waters run along a structure on the Continental Shelf called "Big Rock" which is a 10-mile-long outcropping that includes peaks, valleys and plateaus. It's a prime feeding area for small reef fish. Continue on in the food chain and you'll figure out what those reef fish attract. The combination of an optimal habitat with an abundant food source along the edge of warm deep waters makes for a productive marlin fishing location. Hence the name, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.

Be sure to follow all of the excitement of this year's tournament as it happens. You can visit the tournament website or better yet, come and stay on the beautiful beaches of Emerald Isle and then head on over to the Morehead City Waterfront to check out all of the tournament action firsthand.

Do you follow the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament? Have you been at the weigh station when a marlin has been brought in? Tell us about it in our comment section. We always love hearing about your experiences here on the Crystal Coast!

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