MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – Anglers of all ages are in for a “reel” and “rockin’” adventure at The Crystal Coast this summer during the 57th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament — June 5-13, 2015 — in Morehead City. Since the first big catch of marlin in 1957, the annual competition hooks hundreds of professional and amateur fishermen in the sparkling waters of North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks, providing an unparalleled fishing experience and impressive payout, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes awarded.

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is known for hefty daily release prizes including $5,700 for the 57th billfish release and $2,000 each day for the first billfish released that day. Over the past 18 years, the purse has exceeded more than $1 million every year and more than $3 million donations to many local charities.

Additions to the program promise to make the tournament even more favored than before. This year’s new Level VIII, the Contender Outboard Level, grants boats access to Gamefish and Release prizes in addition to a guaranteed purse of at least, but most likely more than $10,000. The entry fee for Level VIII is $1,000, after the $2,500 entry fee for Level I.

“With more than 60 ways to win in Level I, the tournament is open to boats of all sizes. The change last year for Level I made the tournament more accessible for participants and the inclusion this year of the Outboard Level allows the diverse group of boats to compete against each other,” said Crystal Hesmer, tournament director.

Festivities throughout the tournament include: a captain’s party, sponsored dinners, Sunday Pig Pickin’, an awards banquet with an auction and a lady angler event.

“The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is one of our destination’s top signature events – not only because Morehead City is known for the most diverse fishing on the coast, but also because the beloved tournament is rooted in a rich story,” said Carol Lohr, The Crystal Coast Tourism Authority executive director.

While the Crystal Coast is known for its superior fishing, the blue marlin was not always a top contender. Blue marlin fishing was once restricted to the Gulf of Mexico because no one had ever caught a blue marlin in North Carolina’s coastal areas. Sailors from cargo ships then began spreading rumors about spotting blue marlin not too far from the shore. People brushed off these rumors, secretly wishing they were true.

Though they experienced no luck in catching any, charter members began to sight blue marlins as they ventured further offshore during summer of 1957, after receiving an offer for prize money. However, autumn came and the fishing phenomenon began when Raleigh, NC angler Jimmy Croy and Captain Bill Olsen caught a 143 pound blue marlin. The tournament’s name stems from the assumption that Olsen and Croy made their historic catch along the continental shelf known as “Big Rock.” While it was initially a secret, the Big Rock location is considered a prime spot for marlin fishing along the east coast.

Named “Best Yachting Town” by Yachting magazine, The Crystal Coast offers year-round vacationers the freedom to spend their days exploring un-crowded coastline, dining at flip-flop friendly restaurants, shopping at boutiques filled with coastal treasures or setting sail on cruises. The South facing beaches course east and west, lending views of the dazzlingly bright sun rise to greet the day and then slip into the glistening waters for a stunning sunset. Consistently revered and acclaimed, The Crystal Coast has recently earned nods from Travel + Leisure, naming Beaufort “America’s No. 1 Town,” in addition to other notable achievements such as “Best Spring Break Destination” by Outside Magazine and “Top 25 USA Wreck Dives” by Scuba Diving.

For more information on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, visit www.thebigrock.com or call 252.247.3575.

To experience North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, visit www.crystalcoastnc.org call (800) 786-6962. Engage with the brand socially utilizing #MyCrystalCoast via www.facebook.com/crystalcoast, @CrystalCoast_NC on Twitter and @thecrystalcoast on Instagram.