A Nags Head-based boat, the Sushi with Captain Charley Pereira, was announced the winner of the 65th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament after a Morehead City-based vessel, Sensation, was disqualified.
Sensation had landed a 619.4-pound blue marlin after 11 p.m. on Saturday night, but the fish had apparent shark bites, which was against tournament rules.
“After careful deliberation and discussions between the Big Rock Rules Committee and Board of Directors with biologists from both N.C. State CMAST and N.C. Marine Fisheries biologists as well as an IGFA official, it was determined that SENSATION’S 619.4 lb. Blue Marlin is disqualified due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal,” said Big Rock organizers in a statement. “It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated, and therefore it was disqualified.
“The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament follows IGFA rules regarding mutilated fish as outlined in Rule #23 in the Big Rock Official Rules. IGFA rules state that the following situation will disqualify a fish: ‘Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh.’ This decision is consistent with prior decisions made by the tournament in similar circumstances over the last 65 years.”
The disqualification meant that the 484.5 lb. marlin that was caught by Sushi, which occurred on Friday evening, was the heaviest blue marlin and subsequently the winner of the tournament. The vessel Chasin’ A of the Cayman Islands claimed second place with their 479.8 lb. blue marlin, and the 470.2lb blue marlin captured by C-Student of Southside Place, Texas, landed in third place.
Sushi will win an estimated $2.77 million from the tournament, which had a 2023 purse of approximately $5.8 million total.
The Hatteras-based Predator, with Captain Chris Barnett, landed on the 2023 leaderboard, with a 459.0 lb. blue marlin caught on Wednesday afternoon.
An Oregon Inlet-based boat, Widespread, also put the Outer Banks on the map in the tournament’s recent history, with a top-place finish in 2021.
The top five results for the heaviest marlin are listed below, and the top three vessels receive a portion of the overall prize money.
|2.||Chasin’ A||479.8 pounds|
|4.||Sea Toy||463.7 pounds|
The Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament is one of the largest sport fishing tournaments in the United States, with 271 boats participating in the 2023 edition.
Although the event is based in the Morehead City area of the Crystal Coast, Hatteras village also serves as a launching and docking spot during the tournament, which targets blue marlins over roughly a week of offshore fishing.