06/12/09 — OUTDOORS -- Pate captains crew to big day on Crystal Coast

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OUTDOORS -- Pate captains crew to big day on Crystal Coast

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2009 10:44 AM

Courtesy of Bruce Paul

Big Rock News

MOREHEAD CITY -- Goldsboro native Troy Pate captained the James Joyce II to a solid payday during the 12th annual Keli Wagner Lady Big Rock tournament held off the Crystal Coast.

The James Joyce II crew caught and released two of four blue marlin they hooked during the six-hour competition, and pocketed a first prize of $6,481.25. The group edged the Jim Dandy team that released one blue marlin early in the morning after a six-minute fight.

A blue marlin hooked by the Fin Addict team died during its fight and was brought to the scales to allow tournament researches to examine the catch.

Meanwhile, the James Joyce II landed its first blue marlin at 9:15 a.m. and took the lead for good when angler Joyce Tipton registered a release 45 minutes later. Chelsey Williams was in the chair for the team's second blue marlin, which bit around noon and was released after a 24-minute fight.

Pate, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Pate Jr. of Goldsboro, said both fish would have been prospects for the Big Rock leaderboard if they had been hooked Monday when the big-money, six-day competition began.

More than 60 boats particiapted in the one-day, release-only ladies event.

Local anglers

Scott Lafevers caught a 21.6-pound wahoo during Wednesday's competition aboard the Chainlink, which is owned by Goldsboro's Wes and Ben Seegars. The boat is captained by Ralph Griffin.

Overall view

While competitors in the 51st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament experienced great billfish action Thursday, no one was able to catch a blue marlin big enough to bring to the scales.

That left the Figment, captained by Glynn Loftin of Swansboro and angler Kyle Culpepper of Wilmington, alone atop the leaderboard with a 439-pound Blue Marlin. It also set up a situation never before experienced in Big Rock History.

"We have 69 boats that have fished four straight days ... and this sets up multiple twists as the Big Rock heads into a two-day shootout," said tournament president Tommy Bennett. "First of all, there are 88 boats that still have one or two days left to fish. They elected to wait ... and that strategy has paid off. Nobody, so far, has caught a big fish.

"But there's nothing in the rules that prevents a boat that's already fished its four days from re-entering the tournament. If they pay another ($17,000) entry fee to compete, they're back in."

And that's exactly what's happened.

For the first time in Big Rock history, seven boats that are "fished out" have paid to re-enter the competition. This is Big Rock's version of a "do over" and it increased the tournament purse -- at press time -- to $1,687,091.

"We've never had this happen before ... but it's well within the rules," said Bennett. "It will be very interesting to watch what takes place in the hours and days ahead."