ROXBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- "Unbelievable." That's how Roxboro resident, Chad Kendrick describes his time as part of the crew aboard the boat, Sushi, which ended up taking home first place in the 65th Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
The tournament is making more national headlines than usual this year due to a controversy that disqualified the initial winner of the tournament.
The owners of the fishing boat Sensation have now filed an official protest, putting the distribution of the tournament prize money on temporary hold until the conflict is resolved.
The fallout comes after Sensation's fish, which weighed more than 619 pounds, was disqualified because judges determined a shark or other animal had attacked it.
Some game fishing competitions use the mutilation rule in case crews strike a fish with their boat making it easier to catch. Fish bitten by sharks or other animals can also make for easier catches.
The ruling put the crew from the boat Sushi in first place with a blue marlin weighing 484.5 pounds. That made them the winners of the tournament's $2.77 million prize money.
Roxboro fisherman Chad Kendrick was part of Sushi's winning crew. It was his first time entering the tournament.
"I reckon I was in the right place, the right time," Kendrick said. "I lost my father five years ago and he's up there proud of me. It hasn't set in. This is still hard to believe."
Kendrick said he went to the tournament with his wife who was entered in the women's division.
He tried his luck asking around if anyone needed help and landed on Sushi. He hopes the captain will ask him back next year calling it the experience of a lifetime.
"My family, my friends, and all the people from Roxboro cheering me on was awesome, man. It was awesome."
OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE BIG ROCK BLUE MARLIN TOURNAMENT
After careful deliberation and discussions between the Big Rock Rules Committee and Board of Directors with biologists from both NC State CMAST and retired NC Marine Fisheries biologists as well as an IGFA official, it was determined that SENSATION'S 619.4lb Blue Marlin is disqualified due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal. It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and therefore it was disqualified.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament follows IGFA rules regarding mutilated fish as outlined in Rule #23 in the Big Rock Official Rules. IGFA rules state that the following situation will disqualify a fish: "Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh."
This decision is consistent with prior decisions made by the tournament in similar circumstances over the last 65 years.
SUSHI has been declared the first place winner of the 65th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament for their 484.5lb Blue Marlin. CHASIN A claimed second place with their 479.8lb. Blue Marlin. The 470.2lb blue marlin captured by C-STUDENT will finish in third place.
The Big Rock extends its sincere appreciation to the 271 Boats that participated in the record-breaking 65th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
To learn more about the IGFA rules regarding mutilated fish, visit the following website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=b8gqsUL4M3A