The crew of the Carterican poses at Big Rock Landing in front of their 476-pound blue marlin catch. The fish, reeled in by Amos Connor, helped the boat win the 41st annual Swansboro Rotary Bluewater Memorial Day Tournament last weekend. (Contributed photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Morehead City-based Carterican captured the 41st annual Swansboro Rotary Bluewater Memorial Day Tournament on Sunday, May 30 with 1,678.6 release points and a 476-pound blue marlin.

The boat, captained by Lee Smith, laid claim to a $79,510 payout for the hefty catch and four releases. The winning fish was reeled in by Amos Connor.

It’s ironic that the annual competition follows the end of the governor’s mask mandate by a few weeks, considering the 2020 tournament was one of the first sporting events to take place statewide after the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine restrictions were eased.

This year’s tournament attracted 29 boats, saw 17 releases, including 16 blue marlin, and had two blue marlin weighed. There were five releases on Sunday and 12 on Friday, May 28. Only one boat ventured out on the water Saturday, May 29 due to poor conditions.

Anglers had the choice to fish two out of three days, beginning Friday and ending Sunday. Lines were in the water from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with weigh-ins taking place at Big Rock Landing in Morehead City. The weather for the tournament grew cooler as it went, with the high on Friday at 83 degrees but 72 on Sunday.

Carterican boated the first blue marlin of the tournament on day one. Connor only fought the fish for an hour before it was brought on board. It was one of three blue marlin hooked by the winning boat that day. Carterican released two more on the way back to port to finish the day as the clear points leader.

Sea Striker Capt. Adrian Holler of Newport boated the second blue marlin of the competition on Sunday, a 419.3-pounder reeled in by Christian Bedsworth after a 40-minute fight. The catch netted Sea Striker a prize worth $20,995.

There were three checks bigger than that handed out at the awards ceremony on Sunday at Big Rock Landing. Builder’s Choice of New Bern netted a payout of $52,300 after it finished second in the Level I category with 1,500 release points.

Baby J of Morehead City won $34,900 for winning the dolphin category with a 46.3-pound catch. Due South won $23,675 for the win in the wahoo division with a 29.8-pound fish.

Natalie Petrilli of the Double B in Atlantic Beach won the Lady Angler Award for 300 release points with the release of a blue marlin. Graham Marsh of Carolina Time out of Morehead City reeled in a 37-pound dolphin to win the Junior Angler prize.

After Carterican and Builder’s Choice, The General of Morehead City placed third in the release category with 600 points.

The Swansboro Rotary tournament was the second competition in the N.C. Billfish Series, which took over as a different name from the N.C. Governors Cup. The first tournament was the Hatteras Village Offshore Open, which was won by Top Dog with the release of five blue marlin. Top Dog won the 2019 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament with a record 914-pound blue marlin.

The next tournament in the series was this weekend, the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament, to be followed by the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament beginning Friday.

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