MOREHEAD CITY – One of the most coveted deep sea fishing prizes in the world, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament held every June in the waters off the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, will again feature one of the most lauded athletes of all time as a contestant.
Last year, the already famous fishing tournament, with millions in prize money and anglers from all over the world, garnered even more attention when news broke that the one and only Michael Jordan was competing in the tournament on his boat Catch 23. In style fitting for the the 6X world champ, Jordan and crew were the first to land a fish; they boated and brought to the scales a 442 lbs blue marlin in a weigh station scene that bordered on surreal.
But the fish ultimately fell off the leader board as bigger blues were reeled in, and with that one might imagine the crew of Michael Jordan resolving to come back next year with the kind of competitive determination only the GOAT could embody.
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Catch 23 is among the 270 boats fishing the 2021 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, with millions in prize money and the more important bragging rights up for grabs. While the annual scene at the Morehead City Waterfront can be thick with dingbatters, the heritage gives the tournament a unique character.
To say the area has a history of fishing is an understatement, but the blue marlin had been mostly relegated to old timers tall tales until….
“Finally the day came when members of the Fabulous Fishermen Club decided to settle the issue once and for all. The Fabulous Fishermen — a loose-knit organization of Morehead City fishing enthusiasts — got together with several local merchants and announced they would pay a cash prize to the first person who could catch a blue marlin in the waters just off the Crystal Coast.
That cash prize did the trick. Intended to promote deep-sea fishing and to help support the area’s infant charter boat industry, it encouraged anglers and captains to head further offshore. Fishermen sighted blue marlin throughout that summer. Despite the sightings, no one was able to land the beautiful, elusive fish.
Those summer failures gave way to an autumn success. On September 14, 1957, Raleigh angler Jimmy Croy, fishing aboard the Mary Z with Capt. K.W. “Bill’’ Olsen, landed a 143-pound blue marlin. This special catch forever changed the face of Crystal Coast fishing.”
Nearly every registered boat is fishing Monday, with hook ups already reported. You can listen to the action and watch the scales here.