Annual fishing tournament scheduled for Morehead City

It’s one of the largest billfish tournaments in the United States, and it starts Friday in Morehead City.

The annual Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament draws anglers from up and down the East Coast as well as hundreds of spectators for daily weigh-ins along the Morehead City Waterfront.

The Lady Angler tournament kicks off activities on the water on Saturday, followed by Big Rock fishing Monday through Saturday of next week.

The quest for the anglers is the biggest blue marlin, which could pay out more than $500,000.

Last year, the boat Ashley Lauren with captain Mark Annis and angler Doug Phillips weighed-in a 621.4-pound blue marlin to capture first place in the tournament. The record catch was 831 pounds in 2000 by the boat Summertime Blues.

Fishing is the Gulf Stream off the North Carolina coast is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Boats entered in the tournament fish four of the six days of the tournament. Weigh-ins are scheduled for around 5 p.m. along the Morehead City Waterfront. Daily weigh-ins of game fish of dolphin, wahoo and tuna will take place.

However, boats with catches of blue marlin sometimes come back to the scales earlier in the day depending on the time of the catch. Updates for blue marlin weigh-ins will be available through the tournament’s website and social media sites. Weigh-ins of marlin will also be live-streamed through the tournament’s website.

The tournament serves as a fundraiser, with more than $4.3 million donated through the event since 1986. Tournament beneficiaries have included the Broad Street Health Clinic, the History Place museum, Martha’s Mission food pantry, Take a Kid Fishing Foundation, N.C. State’s Center for Marine Science and Technology, Hope Mission, and Carobell’s Station Club Enterprise for developmental disabilities, among others.

For more information on the tournament, go online to the tournament website at www.thebigrock.com.