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Big Rock brings lure of the big bucks

Run Off, 533.8 pounds (Big Rock Blue Marlin Twitter photo)

MOREHEAD CITY, Carteret County - In the midst of the week-long Big Rock Tournament, there is more to be done than look to reel in the biggest catch of the week.

The fishermen are only allowed to head out on the waters for four of the six days of the tourney, putting strategy in play when it comes to deciding which days to take off.

The captain of the Dancin' Outlaw, Thomas Wood, is no stranger to the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. He's been a charter boat captain for more than two decades and a fisherman nearly his entire life, he says.

"We've been very fortunate on this boat," he said. "We won it in '99 and finished third in '06 and we've come in first, second and third in the release-catch divisions over the last four years."

But getting his boat and crew ready each year isn't cheap. And Wood estimates he's spent nearly $24,000 on entry fees alone.

The cost of chartering a boat, between fuel and supplies? Roughly another $2,000 per day, Wood says.

"You have a chance to win a lot of money," he said, noting the total purse of more than $2 million. "There's different ways you can enter - some people fish on their own, and some people charter a boat like ours. We bring the experience and equipment and they provide the money and the bodies."

More than half of the entrants in the tournament remained docked on Wednesday, cleaning and fixing equipment and preparing for more runs later this week.

"I think every charter boat in Carteret County is booked for the tournament and it definitely puts a lot of money back into Carteret County," Wood said. "It's good for everyone."

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