It’s nail-biting time for the leaders of the 50th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
Big Rock anglers hooked and released several dozen more Blue Marlins on Friday but none were worthy of bringing back to scale.
That means the Artemis, a Charleston, S.C. boat, maintains its tournament lead heading into the final day of the competition. If the Artemis crew can hold this lead one more day, they’ll receive $708,400 from the Big Rock’s $1,854,575 purse.
Artemis grabbed the Big Rock lead late Monday when Captain David ‘Bucky’ Copleston, Charleston, S.C., and angler Darryl Reyna, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., motored up to the Big Rock scales around 11:30 p.m. with a 640-pound blue marlin. While Reyna’s catch would have won 8-of-10 previous Big Rocks, the large number of blue marlin releases this year – 76 through Thursday – foreshadows the probability that larger blue marlin are somewhere nearby.
Artemis – named after the Greek Goddess of the Hunt – finds itself being the hunted.
Melina, captained by William Frisch, Moorestown, N.J., holds second place with the 555.5-pound blue marlin that was reeled in Monday afternoon by Dave Yeager of Medford, N.J. The lady Lou V, captained by Paul Spencer of Manns Harbor, is in third place with a 553.5-pound blue marlin landed early Wednesday by angler/boat owner Jose Valdes of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Wrightsville Beach-Based Tuna Trappe III, captained by Brian Smith, Wilmington, captured the event’s $386,750 prize for landing the first billfish weighing more than 500 pounds. Tuna Trappe III angler John Lancaster, Raleigh, reeled in a 537-pound blue marlin early Monday to capture the tournament’s 50th anniversary special prize.
From the very beginning, the crew of the Artemis has been worried that bigger fish are “out there.” Reyna indicated as much when he addressed the media shortly after his catch was weighed.
“There are a lot of good crews fishing the Big Rock and there probably are some bigger fish in the area,” Reyna said Monday after his 3.5 hour fight put Artemis in the lead. “It feels good to be in first place, but we really need to go out and catch a bigger blue marlin. I’d rather it be us than somebody else.”