Local News

Big Rock aims to draw in fishers, tourists

Posted June 9, 2009 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2009 4:20 p.m. EDT

— The annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament is crucial to the economy along the Crystal Coast. However, some people worry financial stresses will keep anglers away this year.

Clay Walker is among the Big Rock anglers. Onlookers watched from the Morehead City water front as his crew, on-board boat Figment, reeled in a 98-pound tuna.

“That tuna is probably a good 15 pounds bigger than any yellowfin I've ever caught, so I was pretty stoked,” said Clay Walker, Big Rock Angler.

This is the 51st year of the tournament, and it attracts fisherman and visitors from all over.

George Duvall and his family traveled from Charlotte to catch a glimpse of the day's catch.

“We're kind of just hanging out and seeing. I'm showing my daughter some of the pictures of the earlier fish that were caught,” Duvall said.

It can be a boring wait at times, but worth it when the big fish comes in. Last year's prize marlin was 642-pounds.

The tournament is a big deal for the area's economy, especially this year.

“You have got people staying in the hotels, (and) going out at night eating," said Bruce Paul, media director for Big Rock. "It's great for the local economy and will be great for all the charities that benefit from this tournament."

It's not cheap to compete; the teams are paying as much as $17,000 in entry fees. However, the team that reels in the biggest marlin this year could win prize money of more than $600,000.

“We're down 20 boats from last year, but the truth of the matter is, it is the second biggest purse this tournament has ever had,” Paul said.

Walker's tuna could net him $7,000 if it's the biggest of the week. But these guys aren't waiting on that win; they are still fishing for the big marlin.

“No predictions, we don't want to put a hex on anything,” Walker said.

The tournament is using new technology this year to help keep fans in the loop. You can follow the tournament on Facebook and Twitter.

The Big Rock tournament runs through the end of the week.