Thr 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament starts Monday
It’s been quite a year of ups and downs for Chuck Lindner.
First the good.
The Morehead City man has enjoyed being the captain of the Honey Hush, the defending champion of the Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament.
The Honey Hush won $753,875 of the tournament purse of $2.56 million after its 518.5-pound big blue caught on the second day withstood a final day surge of seven marlin brought into the scales.
Robert Gorrell of Bluffton, S.C. was the winning angler.
And now the bad.
“The hurricane came and I lost my house and my son had damage to his home,” Lindner said. “Everything was going good. We were on top of the world until the hurricane came.”
Lindner added that he just had his roof fixed in March. As far as the Honey Hush, a 61-foot Spencer, the captain said he had to keep the boat in Wanchese during Hurricane Florence.
“It had been there since last September,” he said. “I’ve been going back and forth to get her spiffed up for the lady angler tournament.”
Since last year’s Big Rock, the Honey Hush fished in the Hatteras Marlin Club tournament in June and in the Pirate’s Cove tournament in Oregon Inlet in August.
That means this year’s 61st Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament in Morehead City is Honey Hush’s first venture out in the water since Florence.
The six-day tournament starts Monday.
“We are starting out with the granddaddy of them all,” Lindner said. “It’s been a whole year and we are ready for it. The excitement is building up. And this year we have the ladies who are able to go.”
The Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament was Saturday.
“Robert’s wife has done the lady angler tournament before,” Lindner said. “I keep teasing him because she has two wins and he only has one.”
The fish are out there this year, Lindner added.
He said three marlin over 500 pounds, including a 655-pound fish, was recently caught in Hatteras. Then Captain Wade Fickling of Morehead recently led The General to a 639.2-pound catch during the Swansboro Rotary Bluewater Tournament.
“Any of these fish would have by far won the Big Rock last year,” Lindner said.
Oddly enough, the top three marlin in last year’s Big Rock were separated by only 17.6 pounds.
So what does it take to win the Big Rock?
“The No. 1 thing is that the marlin gods have to smile on you,” Lindner said. “And preparation always beats opportunity. The boat has to run well and you have to be in the general vicinity of where the fish are.”
But the Big Rock is more than just about fishing, Lindner said. It’s also about the charitable donations it provides local organizations.
The Big Rock has donated $5,398,061.
“We got a little publicity in the magazines and stuff like that last year, but the Big Rock is more than just a fishing tournament,” Lindner said. “These folks contribute to the community. In fact, I’m with the Morehead City Little League and they helped us out after the hurricane. They gave $150,000. That was remarkable.”
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by calling 910-219-8472. Follow him on twitter @jdnsports. For digital subscription information, click here.