MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – June 7, 2018 – Anglers of all ages are in for a “reel” and “rockin’” adventure at The Crystal Coast this summer during the 60th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing TournamentJune 8-16, 2018 – 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 Central Shore, providing an unparalleled fishing experience and impressive payout, including millions of dollars in cash and prizes awarded.

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is known for hefty prizes and significant charitable contributions. In 2017, Big Rock celebrated a record purse of $2,412,500 as top boat “Run-Off” took home $1,161,450, shattering all previous tournament payouts. A field of 177 boats entered last year’s event donating over $600,000 to local charities, schools and worthy organizations. To date, the Big Rock has contributed close to $5 million in charitable proceeds for well-deserving organizations in the community.

As a special prize for the 60th anniversary, Big Rock will give away one Rolex Submariner watch, valued at $5,000, each of the six fishing days. The drawing from the boat entrants will be held live each day at 3:30 p.m. on Big Rock’s radio broadcast. Additionally, live audio and video will be streamed all week on both Big Rock’s website,, or from the Big Rock App available in the App Store.

Additions to the program promise to make the tournament even more favored than before. This year’s new Big Rock Big Hero program will allow for six deserving active duty service members (nominated by friends and family) to experience an unforgettable fishing adventure offshore alongside Big Rock legends. “All of us at the Big Rock are forever grateful to their service to our country and this is just a small way of showing our appreciation. These six men have dedicated their lives and made immeasurable sacrifices for our freedom,” explains Crystal Hesmer, Big Rock tournament director.

Festivities throughout the tournament include: a captain’s party, sponsored dinners, an awards banquet with auction, a lady angler event and free concert featuring local favorite, Spare Change.

The ever-popular Keli Wagner Lady Angler tournament will kick-off on Friday, June 8 with its one-day fishing tournament held on Saturday, June 9. The Big Rock Lady Angler tournament is named in honor of the late wife of Big Rock board member, Casey Wagner. Keli Wagner lost her battle with cancer in 2008. Keli, an enthusiastic proponent of the tournament, played a vital role in having the tournament proceeds donated to the cancer clinic. To date, the KWLA has donated a total of $278,916 towards the improvement of patient comfort and care. Last year the tournament celebrated a record boat total of 144 boats and donated $25,000 to the local Carteret Health Care Cancer Center.

“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 Casey Wagner, The Crystal Coast Tourism Authority chair and Big Rock board member.

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. In autumn of 1957, 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.

The Big Rock tournament will get underway Saturday evening, June 9 with fishing beginning Monday, June 11 through Saturday, June 16. With a purpose to represent the value of innovation, conservation and charitable giving, the tournament is the largest of its kind in the United States. For more information on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, visit or call 252.247.3575.

To experience North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, visit or call 252.726.8148. Engage with the brand socially utilizing #MyCrystalCoast via, @CrystalCoast_NC on Twitter and @thecrystalcoast on Instagram.




About The Crystal Coast, North Carolina’s Gem: 

Eighty-five miles of gleaming beaches only begin to tell the story of North Carolinaʼs Crystal Coast. Framed by barrier islands that extend from Cape Lookout, the Crystal Coast is home to a national seashore, a herd of wild Spanish mustangs, Blackbeardʼs sunken flagship, a towering lighthouse, world-class fishing, diving and boating, intriguing history, maritime heritage and “Americaʼs Coolest Small Town.” For more information on The Crystal Coast, visit