A fishing team at the 65th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is smarting Tuesday after a record-setting blue marlin was disqualified.
Tournament officials disqualified the 619.4-pound marlin caught by anglers on the Sensation team because of mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal before it pulled aboard.
As a result, the second-place team Sushi took home the $2.7 million top prize with its 484.5-pound blue marlin catch. The six-day fishing competition in Morehead City, North Carolina, which ran from June 12-17, featured some of the best anglers in the world vying for the coveted blue marlin trophy and a record-breaking purse of over $5 million.
The tournament started with a bang on the first day, when C-Student, a 72-foot Viking boat, landed a 470.2-pound blue marlin, the heaviest fish of the day and the third heaviest of the tournament. The second day saw another impressive catch by Chasin’ A, a 61-foot Garlington boat from the Cayman Islands, which brought in a 479.8-pound blue marlin, the second heaviest of the tournament. The third day was quieter, with no blue marlins weighed in, but several releases reported.
The fourth day was the most dramatic of the tournament, as Sushi, a 57’ Island Boat Works boat from Nags Head, snatched the lead with a 484.5-pound blue marlin, the heaviest of the tournament and the eventual winner.
However, the excitement did not end there, as Sensation, a 52-foot Scarborough boat from Morehead City, boated a massive 619.4-pound blue marlin at 8:22 p.m., just minutes before the fishing deadline. The crowd at Big Rock Landing erupted in cheers as Sensation arrived at the scale with what seemed to be the new leader and a potential record-breaker.
However, after careful deliberation and consultation with biologists and officials from NC State CMAST, NC Marine Fisheries and IGFA, the tournament’s rules committee and board of directors disqualified Sensation’s catch due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal.
“After careful deliberation and discussions between the Big Rock Rules Committee and Board of Directors with biologists from both NC State CMAST and NC Marine Fisheries biologists as well as an (International Game Fish Association) 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. It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and therefore it was disqualified,” the tournament said in a statement.
The tournament contends the decision is consistent with prior decisions but Sensation Capt. Greg McCoy disagreed with the ruling.
As a result, Sushi was declared the first-place winner of the 65th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament for their 484.5-pound blue marlin, earning them $1.9 million in prize money. Chasin’ A claimed second place with their 479.8-pound blue marlin, taking home $1.1 million. C-Student finished in third place with their 470.2-pound blue marlin, winning $662,000.