Run-Off wins massive haul with Big Rock triumph

After reeling in the first 500-plus pound blue marlin, the Run-Off maintained its lead for six days to win the Big Rock Tournament

Wire-to-wire victories are rare in any sport. Winning an offshore fishing tournament with a record amount of money on the line is one for the record books at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.That’s exactly what the Run-Off crew accomplished on Saturday, netting a grand total of $1,161,450 — a new record for the 59-year-old tournament.”I just couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud my crew,” Run-Off captain Brian Harrington said. “We’ve had tremendous support. I have never ever in my life had anything even close to grasping what that ($1,161,450) would be like. That’s going to take some time to get used to.”Harrington will share the prize money with first mate Marty Hiatt and angler Matt Hanley. It was Hanley who reeled in the 533.8 mammoth, which was his first ever blue marlin caught. Bringing in the first 500-plus pound marlin of the tournament initially earned the trio $467,500 for winning the Level V Fabulous Fisherman’s “Winner Take All” division. After pulling in an additional $693,950 for finishing first with the largest blue marlin, the Run-Off prize tops the previous Big Rock record held by Sea Striker captain Adrian Holler of $942,100 in 2001.After an entire week of being on top of the leaderboard, the Run-Off crew was nervous late Saturday evening. Bull Frog captain Bob Eakes was working on reeling in a blue marlin with just over an hour remaining in the competition, but announced with 10 minutes remaining it had released the fish.”Bull Frog had us on edge a little bit,” Hanley said. “They had it for about an hour before they released it. There weren’t many words spoken in that hour. We all just sat there and looked at the wall.”Not all was lost for Bull Frog, though. Bull Frog’s blue marlin release — the one that the Run-Off celebrated with 10 minutes remaining in the competition — was worth $48,520 in the daily release division.Rehab won $250,720 for finishing second with a 506-pound blue marlin caught Friday by angler Ryan Howard. Weldor’s Ark, captained by Mike Taylor, finished third to win $166,480 for the 484.9-pounder landed Monday by angler John Roberts.