Wilmington-based Marlin Gull and its crew may not have won the 58th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the coast of Morehead City this year, but the 54-foot Buddy Cannady owned by Michael Feasel brought home nearly $700,000 of the $1.9 million purse after finishing as runner-up at the six-day event.
Marlin Gull, captained by Kenny Midgett, held the first-day lead with a 564.8-pound blue marlin caught by angler William McSpadden. McSpadden helped his team capture the $433,500 Fabulous Fisherman prize for landing the first 500-pound blue marlin caught during this year’s tournament. The crew also brought home an additional $238,480 for its second place finish.
Their spot on the leader board was tested on Friday as a New Jersey-based boat, Viking 72, reeled in a 564.1 pound catch, missing second place by less than one pound. The Friday bite was the best of the week as anglers caught and released 14 blue marlins, 14 white marlins, nine sailfish and one spearfish.
The Ashley Lauren – winner of the 19th annual Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) Blue Marlin Tournament one week ago– continued its hot streak when the team arrived at the weigh station with a 621.4-pound blue marlin that gave the Clayton-based boat first place on day two of the tournament.
No boat had won the Big Rock after winning the KWLA until Ashley Lauren captain Mark Annis, Clayton, and angler Doug Phillips showed up at the scales with their huge catch.
The Ashley Lauren team held on to the top spot through the final four days of competition and claimed $662,925 for finishing first among 174 fishing teams competing at the event.