For just the second time since 2014, a blue marlin weighing under 500 pounds came away as the big winner at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament — even though a bigger fish was weighed at the docks in Morehead City.
Sensation’s 619.4-pound blue marlin was disqualified on Sunday morning, a day after it seemingly took the tournament lead and claimed the $739,500 Fabulous Fisherman prize, “due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal,” the Big Rock said in a statement on its website. “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,” the statement continued. “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.’”
The disqualification meant the crew of Sushi had the largest confirmed catch of the week with its 484.5-pound blue marlin caught on Friday. That beat the second-place catch by Chasin’ A, which boated a 479.8-pounder, by under five pounds. C- Student was third with its 470.2-pound marlin.
Sensation captain Greg McCoy told The Washington Post that he and his crew believed they had brought the winner to the docks.
“It’s the final hour, the final day and we fought with him for six hours,” McCoy said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
When the bite mark was seen on Sensation’s catch, tournament officials huddled and Big Rock emcee Tommy Bennett told the large crowd that the rules committee would deliberate and make a decision on the marlin.
“The IGFA rule is very clear,” Bennett said. “Out of respect for the crew of the Sensation and the other 270 boats fishing in the tournament, the rules committee of the Big Rock is going to meet and look at all of the evidence regarding this fish and make a decision.”
The next morning at 10 a.m., the Big Rock released a statement that Sensation’s blue marlin had been disqualified.
Since no boat brought in a certified 500-pound marlin, the Fabulous Fisherman money will carry over to next year. Plenty of prize money was still handed out.
Sushi banked $2.77 million of the $5.85 million purse for their winning catch. Other big winners from the tournament included Skip Hook earning $539,750 for the Level VII heaviest dolphin, a 59.3-pound catch. Chasin’ A won more than $400,000 for its second-place marlin, while C- Student claimed more than $270,000 for third place.