A Fish Worth 1.2 Million!!!
Written by Dave Mercer on June 24, 2010
This story hot off the pages of the Washington Post will show you just how much fishing without a license can cost you.
A nonresident annual coastal recreational fishing license in North Carolina is pretty cheap – 30 bucks.
The lack of one proved to be considerably more expensive to a fishing team in last week’s Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament – $1.2 million more.
The team on the Hatteras, N.C.-based Citation thought it had won big money in the 52nd running of the Morehead City-based fishing contest. When it was found that a mate on the boat lacked a required state fishing license, tournament directors withheld the winnings and spent three days deliberating with state officials and the North Carolina attorney general.
Tuesday, the Big Rock board of directors voted unanimously to disqualify the team for breaking the rules.
“I think the board did the right thing,” tournament director Crystal Watters said Tuesday evening. “We’ve never had a disqualification at the end of the tournament. There will be some lessons learned from this one.”
Andy Thomasson of Richmond was aboard the Citation when he set a tournament record by catching an 883-pound blue marlin on June 14, the first day of the tournament. The fish was boated at 3:15 p.m.
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries officials confirmed Tuesday that mate Peter Wann of Alexandria had purchased a license at 5:51 p.m. while on his way to the weigh station – meaning the fish was caught while a member of the team was not properly licensed.
Before tournament awards ceremonies, captains and mates on winning teams at most major fishing tournaments are given a polygraph examination to confirm that all rules have been followed.
When Citation captain Eric Holmes told officials that his mate had not produced proof he had a North Carolina fishing license, those officials confronted the mate, who then failed the polygraph examination. On Sunday, Wann was cited by game officials for fishing without a license, which carries a $35 fine and $125 in court costs.
The damage to his reputation might be significantly costlier.
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” Thomasson told the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News when the team heard their prize had been withheld. “But one of our people did. He failed to get a fishing license, but we didn’t know it. He told us he had it. He didn’t. So you take a man for his word, you know?
“They’re taking it away, everything. The fish is disqualified. We’re disqualified. That’s the end of it.”
Thomasson’s fish had earned the team an instant $318,750 for bringing in the tournament’s first blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds. When no bigger fish was caught, the team won an additional $912,825 in the blue marlin division.
Because of the disqualification, Thomasson’s fish will no longer be a tournament record – that honor will still be an 831-pound fish caught in 2000.
Officials declared Tuesday that runner-up Carnivore, of Cape Carteret, N.C., is the official winner for a 528.3-pounder caught on the third day by John Parks of Jacksonville, N.C.
Carnivore’s team will be credited as the first to bring in a blue topping 500 pounds and take that $318,750 prize. It also will take 60 percent of the blue marlin division money – leaving the team with a total of $999,453, considerably more than the $217,570 it had originally won.
Wet-N-Wild from Beaufort, N.C., now takes second place and $275,322 for a 460-pounder caught by Joseph Engleby. There is no third-place winner.