Boats Head Offshore For Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament

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Monday is the first day of the main portion of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the coast of Morehead City. Organizers say as of 5 p.m. Sunday, 132 boats were registered to complete. The purse is set at $1,423,975.

There will be a blessing of the fleet Monday morning before lines are officially allowed in the water at 9 a.m.

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The 53rd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament kicks off in Morehead City Friday after a controversial winner last year.

The crew of Citation caught an 883 pound blue marlin last year large enough to win the tournament, but one of the crew members, 22 year old Peter Wann, did not have a fishing license when the fish was caught. So, the Big Rock fishing board awarded the nearly $1 million purse to the crew of Carnivore for its 528 pound catch. Tournament director Crystal Hesmer says Big Rock and its participants are looking forward to a smooth tournament this year.

"We feel like we're just going to focus on this year. We're going to try to make it the best it can possibly be and raise a lot of money for charity," said Hesmer

A Carteret county judge upheld the Big Rock board's decision. In March, the Citation's owners filed an appeal to overturn that decision.