Capt. Hunter Blount, Jim Holmes and the crew of the “Coverage” out of Morehead City, are on a tear this year having won two of the first three of the tournaments in the N.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Conservation Series, taking first place in the Cape Fear Blue Marlin tournament last weekend with an 821.2-pound blue marlin that set a tournament record.
Blount and crew had won the Hatteras Village Offshore Open by releasing three blue marlin and a while marlin, but at the Cape Fear, they targeted a big marlin.
“We had been fishing some prettier water at 125 fathoms early in the day, but talked with some of the other boats that were shallower and seeing tuna, birds and lots of activity, so we moved inshore and to the north a little,” Blount said. “She snuck in at about 2:20 and hit a Black Bart on the right short-rigger without any of us seeing her. We weren’t sure what it was until she started jumping. She had run off a bunch of string before jumping and still looked big, so we got everything cleared and went after her.
“Jim had her to the leader in 30 minutes, and J.D. Payne got ahold of the leader and turned her, but she surged and he had to let go” Blount said. “That’s when we got a good look and saw how big she was. She was still way too strong to bring in, and Jim fought with her within 20 or 30 feet of the leader for the next 30 minutes.
“J.D. had the leader a couple of times and had to let go. Finally, she let him lead her up beside the boat. Morgan Morgan stuck the first gaff in her, and then Bill Blount got the second in, and she gave up. All of us helped pull her through the tuna door.”
The big blue weighed 821.2 pounds and scored 1,232 points (1.5 points per pound), which was enough to win the Most Billfish Points, Largest Blue Marlin and Most Daily Billfish Points categories at the tournament. Coverage leads the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Conservation Series in points and also has the Largest Blue Marlin of the Year.
Sixteen boats participated in the tournament, which began with Capt. Alan Murray and angler Harvey Scott on the “J&B” of Wanchese, weighing a 447.0- pound blue marlin on the first day that was the first marlin weighed in in the tournament in 12 years. That and a white marlin release on the second day combined for 572 points to give them second place in Billfish Points, second place in Largest Blue Marlin and a win in the Most Daily Billfish Points categories.
“Eye Catcher,” who released the first blue marlin of the tournament to score 400 points, was scored in third place in Most Billfish Points, with time being used as the tie breaker between several boats with a single blue marlin release.
The Gamefish Category included wahoo, tuna and dolphin, but only dolphin were weighed. The “Box Office” caught the largest dolphin at 36.6 pounds; the “Horse” was second with a 24.5-pound dolphin.