Hatteras Fever II wins drama-filled Big Rock and $491,297

Jun. 15, 2013 @ 07:26 PM

MOREHEAD CITY — Hatteras Fever II held on to win Saturday what is considered the Super Bowl of billfishing tournaments on the Atlantic seaboard and a $491,297 first prize.

Hatteras Fever II, captained by Buddy Hooper out of Buxton, took the lead in the 55th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament on Wednesday. The crew sweated out three more days of fishing, including Saturday afternoon when 99 of 100 boats had eligibility to fish. Three boats hooked up with marlins and continued fishing past the 2 p.m. deadline.

Hatteras Fever II’s Taylor Miller, a former Appalachian State baseball pitcher from Raleigh, landed the 465.3-pound blue, his first. His battle to boat the blue marlin lasted nearly half an hour.

The fish is the second-smallest to ever win. The 440-pounder caught in 1995 by Sea Striker has the record.

Sensation, captained by Dale Britt out of Morehead City, finished second and earned $195,702. Trey Siner of Concord, in a 109-minute battle, landed a 423.8-pound blue on Monday.

Anglers, eligible to fish on four of six days between Monday and Saturday, were competing in several categories for shares of the $1,154,625 purse. A number of boats, which annually come from up and down the coastline from Maine to Florida, barely got into port on Sunday to register due to Tropical Storm Andrea the week before.

Gusty wind conditions from two storm fronts wrecked the middle portion of the event, but Saturday was billed as prime fishing weather in the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean. More than 30 blue marlin were hooked, but none came to the scales.

Fish hooked prior to the day’s ending time are allowed to continue until a conclusion of the fight is reached. The tournament minimums are 400 pounds or 110 inches in length.

Reel Dreams out of Greenville, the Blue Magic from Charlotte and Crack of Dawn from Beaufort each had the opportunity to bring the final marlin to the scales as the anxious crowd there awaited.

Reel Dreams released its blue marlin about 30 minutes after time expired, and Blue Magic — which hooked up one minute prior to deadline — let go another 30 minutes after that.

Crack of Dawn, which hooked up at 12:13 p.m., was listed on the tournament website’s activity board with a fish disqualified just before 4 p.m. The fish was believed to have measured 99 inches and was not brought to the scales.

The boat out of McLean, Va., was captained by Geoff Flynt.