MOREHEAD CITY—Good things come to those who wait, as Top Dog proved with an overtime win at the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
The Maryland-based boat was one of five competitors with a marlin on the line when the tournament’s official end time arrived at 2:00 PM Saturday. Big Rock rules allow boats still fighting with a fish on the line to continue past the deadline, however. So the tournament went into overtime.
It would go deep into overtime, with the tournament not having official results until nearly nine hours later.
Top Dog put in a five hour battle before angler Todd Dickerson finally landed his catch, which only partially fit on the boat, with the rest hanging out the back, through a tuna door. Captain Ryan Knapp then spent another 90 minutes getting it to the scales. Part of the trouble was the fact that the marlin was 15 feet long and weighed 914 pounds, shattering the Big Rock record for largest marlin in tournament history.
Top Dog’s catch beat the second-place finisher—Wolverine, who brought in a 588.9-pound marlin on day one and spent the rest of the week as the leader—by more than 325 pounds. It also topped the 19-year-old previous tourney record of 831 pounds, by Summertime Blues, by a hefty margin.
The tournament started with one of the biggest days in Big Rock history—with more than a half dozen marlin delivered to the scales and multiple changes atop the leaderboard. Wolverine emerged from the opening scrum with the lead and held it until the Saturday ending time.
A midweek storm slowed fishing, allowing Wolverine to keep its spot at the top. On Thursday, just one boat chose to go out to fish—competitors may only fish four of the six days. By Saturday, however, the marlins were back and snapping at bait. Five were caught on Saturday—four of them in overtime.
Top Dog took home the $793,188 first prize from Big Rock’s record-high $2.8 million purse. Wolverine took home $289,862 for second place.
Theresa Jean, another boat that fought into overtime, came in third with a 582.1-pounder worth $192,575. The Theresa Jean actually had two marlins on the line when overtime began and boated the larger one after a six-hour battle.
That late catch knocked Sweetums off the podium. The Texas-based boat was the first atop the Big Rock leaderboard, winning more than $531,000 by taking the Fabulous Fisherman prize for the first 500-pound catch of the tournament as part of the wild opening day.
Top Dog wasn’t the only boat to set a Big Rock record this year.
The Predator landed a 145.1-pound tuna on Friday, which is believed to be the largest in Big Rock history. Catching any tuna at all is a Big Rock rarity, as fishermen have only landed three in the last four tournaments. The catch was worth $5,000 to the Predator and was more than 105 pounds heavier than the second-place Voodoo Child’s catch.
The weekly dolphin competition was won by Job Site, who landed a 53.7 pounder worth $5,000. The boat added more than $360,000 in winner-take-all dolphin prize money (another Big Rock record). Uno Mas brought home the biggest Wahoo at 59.3 pounds and also won $5,000.
The Annie O, captained by Raleigh’s Brad Sutton, won the week’s catch and release marlin competition, landing four blue marlins as well as a white and a sailfish worth 1,850 points. The haul was worth a total of $147,000.
Drillin & Billin finished second with four blue marlins worth 1,600 points. They took home $85,000 for second place and added another $57,000 in winner take all competition. The Full Pull caught three blue marlins for 1,200 points and $56,000. They doubled their winnings in winner take all.
The Starflite, Viking 80 and Goombay all won $56,000 daily prizes in catch and release.
For the week, the 184 competitors caught and released 80 blue marlin, 54 white marlin, 17 sailfish and two spearfish. More than 15 marlins were brought in to the scales to be weighed. None of them were—or have ever been—bigger than the one Top Dog produced.