So you think you’re easily identified by your fishing buddies as a deep, blue water angler with your big boat tied to the dock with a mighty sport fish hooked on the scales.

But what about when you get on dry land?

Now mariners can blow their own horns by letting everyone know their sea prowess as they drive the highways and byways of North Carolina with their Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament special registration plate affixed to their vehicle.

On July 18, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law an act to authorize the Division of Motor Vehicles to produce a Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament special registration plate. Like all things in life and especially those items emanating from Raleigh, it comes with a price and a few restrictions. The plate is issuable to the registered owner of a motor vehicle registered in the State of North Carolina at an additional fee of $30, over and above the regular motor vehicle registration fee.

The $30 is divided and placed into two separate accounts. Ten dollars is deposited into a special registration plate account with the remaining $20 credited to the collegiate and cultural attraction plate account from which a quarterly transfer will occur back to the Big Rock organization to be dispersed to the tournament’s charities.

Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament President Billy Kornegay was elated Wednesday morning when he learned the Governor had signed the plate into law.

“We’re excited about getting this pushed through,” Kornegay said from his Clayton home in a telephone interview. “A lot of people helped us including several board members and Rep. Pat McElraft from Carteret County and Sen. Rick Horner from Wilson.”

From an endeavor that began in Feb. 2016, Kornegay said as of July 19, 536 plate applications have been submitted towards a goal of 2,000. Much of the sales thus far have been made on a one-to-one basis by Big Rock board members and Kornegay who sold his 91-year old mother a plate for her Cadillac which she drives on the streets of Calypso. Kornegay feels as plates become affixed to vehicles, awareness will grow and more people will be inclined to get their own plate.

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament just completed its 59th tournament and has become a catalyst to economic development throughout eastern North Carolina through its charitable benevolence and providing seed money for bricks and mortar facilities — that go beyond giving big-game fishermen a week to complete on the high seas — by providing local communities with life-enriching assets. According to Kornegay, the tournament dispersed $687,000 to charities from proceeds raised during the 2016 tournament.

The 2017 tournament brought together “177 boats with a total purse of $2,412,000,” Tournament Director Crystal Hesmer said. Hesmer said the first place winner won $1,161,450.

Hesmer said Big Rock recently cut a $262,500 check to the Morehead City Salvation Army for their new building fund and years ago directed $200,000 towards the construction of the Crystal Coast Hospice House in Newport. “Our core group of charities consists of The Boys Scouts, Hope Mission/Martha’s Mission Soup Kitchens, Broad Street Clinic, Take-A-Kid Fishing, NC University,” Hesmer said.

The value of the “vanity tag” extends beyond the anticipated revenue that sales are expected to generate.

“We’re well known throughout North Carolina,” Hesmer said. “With this new license plate, it helps people understand that we’re more than just a fishing tournament and that we give back to the community.”

Orders for plates can be made online at Big Rock’s website or through the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles online site. For more information on how to apply for a Big Rock license plate, logon to https://thebigrockstore.com/product/big-rock-specialty-plate or go online to https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/plates to find closest N.C. license plate agency nearest you.

Reporter Mike McHugh can be reached at 910-219-8455 or mike.mchugh@jdnews.com.