The crew aboard James Joyce II brought in the only blue marlin on the third day of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament on Wednesday in Morehead City.
But, the 346-pound blue marlin did not meet the required minimum 400-pound weight limit of the tournament.
Angler Mike Roberson fought the fish for about 90 minutes, and he said the crew had little choice but to bring in the undersized fish because it had given all it had.
“We were hoping he was big enough because we really had no choice but to bring him in because the battle took everything out of him, and if we had released him, he wouldn’t have made it,” Roberson said.
The fish hit just before the deadline to end fishing for the day.
“It was a beautiful day out there, and about 20 minutes before 3 p.m. and time for lines out, he took the bait, breached the water and ran about 1,200 yards of line off the reel,” Roberson said.
After three days of fishing, the boat Inspiration is safe in the lead with its 754-pounder. Eye Catcher sits in second with a 606-pounder and Carnivore is in third with a 410-pounder.
While blue marlins weren’t a hit Wednesday, there were bright spots.
Big Rock living legend Jimmie Croy, who caught the very first marlin at the tournament, was in attendance after not making it last year due to illness.
Croy caught his fish in 1957, the first time he ever went deep-sea fishing.
“I was 25 years old when I caught that fish and I am 81 now,” Croy said. “I never even came close to catching another one, although I never really fished for them again. I’ve had people tell me they have fished for 30 years and never caught one and I got mine on the first day I ever tried.”
Several game fish were brought into the scales including a pair of wahoo weighing more than 75 pounds. The Purple Pirate reeled in a 77.8-pound wahoo and the Game Keeper caught a 77.2-pounder.
Mike Parrott of the Sandrita boated the biggest dolphin of the day, a 45.5-pounder.
Several yellowfin tuna were brought in with the largest being Josh Perry’s 52.3-pounder, caught aboard the Hammer Time.
The million-dollar tournament continues through Saturday with daily weigh-ins at the Morehead City Waterfront.
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.