Captain Burrows Smith was getting ready to take his polygraph test in the office of Big Rock tournament president Roger Crowe Monday evening when he got the news.
Earlier in the day, his boat Eye Catcher brought to the weigh station a 606.9-pound blue marlin. Five hours later, the boat Inspiration took the tournament lead with a 754.3-pound big blue.
After Tuesday’s second day of fishing at the 56th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Fishing Tournament in Morehead City, the standings remain the same.
“I heard it on the radio. I’m happy for (Inspiration),” Smith said. “It’s a great fish for them. We know that competition and fun is all part of it.
“It’s amazing to me that we’re able to see nice big fish like that on the same day.”
Eye Catcher, a Wrightsville Beach-based boat, is in second place with four more days of fishing to go. Inspiration leads the tournament while Carnivore is third with its 410 pounder.
“I knew we had a big fish, but there were plenty more big ones out there, as you can tell,” Smith said. “I wasn’t real confident because it was only Monday and there is a lot of good fishing left.
“You don’t get too excited and count your chickens before they hatch.”
Three blue marlins were weighed on the opening day. None were brought back to the docks on Tuesday.
Smith said he and his crew used Tuesday as one of their two “lay days” because of forecasted thunderstorms.
The 73 boats in water were affected in some way by the storm.
“That big thunderstorm came through and we didn’t want to be out in that all day,” Smith said “We didn’t want to be in that thunder and lightning, and (getting hit by it) can happen.”
The boat Magic Moment was struck by lightning, impacting its electrical and other systems. No one was injured but it faced a 12-hour tow ride back to Jarrett Bay Boatworks for repairs.
“They still have stuff that’s working,” said Bruce Paul, tournament media director. “The radio is working. What they think it is is there is this modulator that has to do with the engine running. They are afraid one of their antennas is out and one or two of their modulators in their engine.”
Paul said the boat Susie-Q had one of its competitors slip and fall, breaking her ankle. The boat left the Gulf Stream and headed in early to Morehead City where a waiting ambulance took the angler to the hospital.
According to angler Peter Schultz, the thunderstorm was “pretty wicked,” with the worst part of the storm lasting about 30 minutes.
“Charley (Pereira), our captain, gave us a ton of confidence,” said Schultz, whose boat Sushi brought in a 25.3-pound dolphin back to the scales. “Nobody was worried about it. All we were thinking about was getting that big bite.”
Ten blue marlin and 20 white marlin were released Tuesday. In two days 24 blue marlin, 46 white marlin and one sailfish have been released.
If Inspiration holds on to first place, it will take home $306,137 of the $1,395,825 purse.
“Two years ago, at this point in time, we had a 437 pounder on the board and we ended up in second place,” Inspiration captain Casey Wagner said. “I guess I am a little bit more confident this year, but there are a lot of really good fishermen here in town. You never know who is going to win this thing.”
The boat Marlin Gull, captained by Bo Dobson, released two blue marlin. Sea Toy, captained by Bull Tolson, won $2,000 after releasing the first billfish of Tuesday.
EZ Boy, captained by Van Pierce, weighed in a 58.2-pound wahoo and Sea Toy brought a 26.9-pound dolphin back to the scales.
Fishing in the tournament continues through Saturday with daily weigh-ins on the Morehead City Waterfront.
Adam Thompson is a reporter for the Sun Journal.