06/19/05 — Size Matters wins Big Rock Tourney

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Size Matters wins Big Rock Tourney

Published in Sports on June 19, 2005 2:02 AM

MOREHEAD CITY -- When it comes to the Big Rock, size matters.

Size Matters, a Maryland-based boat captained by Josh Ruskey, survived a late scare by former champion Dancin' Outlaw to hold on and win the 47th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.

The Dancin' Outlaw, winner of the 41st Big Rock in 1999, arrived at the scales Saturday afternoon with a blue marlin that topped out at 507 pounds. That was good enough for third place ... but not enough to displace the 529-pounder reeled in Friday by lady angler Gigi Wagoner of Frederick, Md.

Wagoner became just the fourth woman in Big Rock history to land the winning fish. She's the first lady angler to win the top angler prize since Kathy Keel accomplished the feat in 1993.

While Wood motored to port with the catch that was reeled in by angler Don Pritchard, Wagoner decided to visit the Big Rock headquarters with Size Matters Mate Keith Brandt to buy extra Big Rock T-shirts.

"By then we knew there was just the one fish coming in," she said. "We might fall (in the standings) ... but we weren't going to fall far."

As it turned out, they didn't fall at all. Not when size matters.

Size Matters entered all levels of the tournament to capture $677,800 from the Big Rock's $1,378,375 purse. Gambler, a Hatteras charter boat captained by Steve Garrett, finished second and collected $249,955. Dancin' Outlaw, which bumped Lady Lou V's 500-pound catch from the leader board, receives $165,970.

Finishing second is a bittersweet reward for the Gambler fishing team. Gambler finished second once before, finishing runner-up to the Summertime Blues in 2000 when angler Ron Wallschlager of Kiawah Island, S.C., landed a Big Rock record 831-pounder to win the 42nd annual event.

Garrett -- who led the 47th Big Rock for four days and the 42nd Big Rock for two days -- learned the hard way (twice) that size matters.

It was a Hollywood ending for Wood, even though he didn't finish the 47th Big Rock atop the leader board.

"My son was just four when we won in 1999 and he doesn't remember anything about it," Wood said. "Last time, none of my friends were here. They didn't find out until the next day. But this time, everyone found out about it on the Internet and came down to see us."

The 47th Big Rock turned out to the closest contest in the history of the event. Just 22 pounds separated the three overall winners. Lady Lou V finished out of the money by just seven pounds.

Big Easy, a Hatteras-based boat captained by Clifton Parker, captured the billfish release division to win $66,538. The Big Easy scored 1050 points and finished the tournament with a "grand slam," releasing a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish.

Second Chance, a Weddington, N.C.-based boat captained by Dale Prox, fiished second in the release standings with 800 points. Second Chance receives $39,140 for being the first to release two blue marlins.

Wave Runner, a Morehead City charter boat captained by Bruce Pollock, finished third in the release division. Wave Runner collects $19,570 for being the second boat to release two blue marlins and score 800 points.

Overall gamefish division winners receive $7,225. Wahoo and tuna division leaders remained unchanged since the first two days of competition. Release, captained by Rom Whitaker, weighed in a 70.70-pound wahoo Tuesday. Frequent Flyer, captained by Glen Loftin, captured the tuna division with a 109.05-pounder landed Monday. Southern Exposure, captained by Rob Gollahon, won the dolphin division with a 60.15-pounder caught Friday.

The six-day competition wrapped up Saturday night with an awards banquet set in the Crystal Coast Civic Center. Tournament officials will distribute the $1,378,375 purse to winners and another $114,000 to area charities.