Ridiculous Rule Technicality Costs Three Anglers $3.5 Million

If you are a fan of fishing, you might have heard of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a prestigious event that attracts hundreds of anglers every year to compete for millions of dollars in prizes. But you might not have heard of the dramatic story that unfolded in the 2023 edition of the tournament, when a shark bite turned a potential winner into a loser.

It all started on June 19, when a boat called Sensation hooked a huge blue marlin off the coast of North Carolina. The crew fought for more than six hours to reel in the fish, which weighed 619.4 pounds. That would have been enough to win the first-place prize of $2.77 million, plus an additional $739,500 for being the first boat to catch a marlin over 500 pounds.

But there was a problem: the fish had a large chunk of flesh missing from its side, apparently caused by a shark attack. According to the rules of the tournament and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), a fish is disqualified if it is mutilated by a shark or other marine animal before it is landed or boated. The officials examined the fish and determined that it was indeed bitten by a shark before it was caught, and therefore ineligible for the prize.

The decision was devastating for the Sensation crew, who had spent thousands of dollars to enter the tournament and had hoped to make history with their catch. The boat owner, Ashley Bleau, protested the ruling and said she would consider legal action. The captain, Greg McCoy, lamented that they would be “totally forgotten” and that no one would care about their achievement.

The tournament officials said they made the decision after careful deliberation and consultation with biologists and an IGFA official. They said they sympathized with the Sensation crew, but had to follow the rules to ensure fair competition. They also praised the crew for their sportsmanship and professionalism.

The winner of the tournament was another boat called Sushi, which caught a 484.5-pound blue marlin on June 17. They received the $2.77 million prize, plus another $100,000 for being one of the first boats to register for the tournament. A total of 271 boats participated in the 65th edition of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, which ran from June 12 to June 20.

The story of the Sensation crew and their shark-bitten marlin is one of the most dramatic and unfortunate in fishing history. It shows how unpredictable and unforgiving nature can be, and how a single bite can make or break a dream.


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