MOREHEAD CITY — Sensation angler Trey Siner didn’t hesitate to give the blue marlin he had just brought in a kiss in front of family and friends and spectators.
In fact, when asked to do it again, Siner was quick to give the 423.8-pound big blue another smooch as he and the crew aboard the Morehead City-based Sensation continued their celebration Monday during the first day of the 55th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
“We are just all excited,” Siner said. “I want to sit back and really gander at this and enjoy it. It’s unbelievable. This is the first one I have ever brought in anywhere.”
After fighting the marlin for 90 minutes, Sensation boated the big blue at 4:16 p.m. and then arrived to the Morehead City scales at 6:13 p.m.
Then the announcement came that the Sensations’ marlin weighed in at 423.8 pounds, putting the vessel atop the leaderboard after the first day of the most prestigious blue water fishing tournament along the East Coast.
Sensation was the only boat among 97 on the water to bring in a marlin on the first day.
“It’s Monday of the Big Rock tournament and I’m tickled to death that we caught a fish that qualified,” said Captain Dale Britt, who serves on the Big Rock Board of Directors. “It’s a beautiful fish and the angler had a great time … so that part of it is great.
“But it is very early in the week and so I know what happens in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.”
Sensation and the other 99 boats in this year’s tournament are allowed to fish up to four days through Saturday. All but two boats fished Monday. Sensation is in position to win $494,710 from the Big Rock purse of $1,154,625.
“Dale met us in the morning before we left the dock and he said ‘Hey, we got to have a plan and here’s our plan,’” Siner said. “We discussed it and we knew what everybody’s role was and what we were going to do and what we weren’t going to do. We executed it flawlessly and this is the result — 423.8 pounds.”
Siner said the Sensation was about three hours out into the Gulf Stream before finding the fish. Things didn’t look good until they finally saw one in the water.
“We hadn’t had a hit all day and … all of the sudden we saw one and (mate Alan Scibal) came out and made the fish hit and the next thing you know I’m in the chair and we are reeling it in,” Siner said. “I would say the wind was blowing about 15 knots or so, maybe more. The waves were probably eight to 12 feet. It wasn’t a calm day, but it wasn’t crazy, either.”
And how did Britt feel once Sensation boated the marlin?
“I was waiting for a cold beer, actually,” he said. “The angler was (tired) and I was dying of thirst.”
Still, Britt and his crew were worried the fish wouldn’t meet tournament minimums to qualify for a payday. Blue marlin have to weigh at least 400 pounds or measure at least 110 inches to be eligible for prize money.
“We measured it in the water and the measurement in the water did not compare to the measurement on the boat when we brought it on the boat,” Britt said. “So I was really concerned. The fish came up tail-wrapped and we fought it for a long time. Unfortunately the fish died and so we had plenty of time to measure it and look at the fish.
“We made the decisions that it looked like it would make weight. It didn’t make the length.”
But while Britt is happy with Monday’s catch, he would like a bigger fish to keep Sensation atop the leaderboard.
“We are going fishing today,” he said. “We are trying to catch a bigger one.”
Sensations’ 423.8-pounder was the only marlin brought to the scales, but it wasn’t the only fish entered.
The Goin Deep, captained by Kenny Sexton of Manteo, leads in the dolphin category at 48.8 pounds. Sea Hag, captained by Allan Willis of Morehead City, is second at 45.2.
Water’s Edge, captained by Robert Hollingsworth of Mt. Pleasant, S.C. leads in the wahoo division at 56.8, followed by Let it Ride, captained by Tommy McConlouge of Monmouth Beach, N.J. at 44.1.
The Irish Ayes, captained by Brent Johnston of Wilmington, sits in first and second place in the tuna category at 59.5 and 50.9.
Compromise, captained by Larry Branham of John Island, S.C. had the first release of the day and leads in the overall release division with one blue marlin.