marlin DQ'd Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament
Youtube, The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

A Shark Mutilated a 600-Pound Marlin, Robbing Anglers of $3.5M Prize Money

The Sensation crew landed a first-place fish but walked away with nothing due to an IGFA rule.

Every big-game angler knows there's nothing like losing a battle with something tries to steal your catch right off the line. But for one fishing crew, a shark stole their fish before the battle even begun: The competitive fishing crew of a boat called Sensation pulled a massive, 619-pound blue marlin out of the water during a tournament in North Carolina on June 18, out-fishing more than 200 other groups.

After a live-streamed weigh-in, Sensation's crew were lined up to take home $3.5 million in prize money, $2.77 million for taking first place, and an additional $739,500 for catching the first fish of the year weighing more than 500 pounds.

There was just one problem: A shark had taken a bite of the enormous marlin, leaving visible wounds on the fish's underside and near the tail.

Please enable Javascript to view this content

Instead of millions, Sensation's crew walked away with nothing.

The crew of the Sensation is filing a protest after their winning catch was disqualified from the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.

In a statement released after the tournament, officials said, "After careful deliberation and discussion between the Big Rock Rule Committee and Board of Directors with biologists from both NC State CMAST and 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."

The statement noted that the decision was consistent with prior decisions made by the tournament in similar circumstances.

The International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules state that "mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch" is cause for disqualification.

The Big Rock Tournament is not an IGFA tournament, but some game fishing competitions enact the mutilation rule to keep crews from striking fish with their boats to make them easier to subdue. Fish bitten by sharks or other animals are also thought to make for easier catches.

The crew was understandably upset. They fought the fish for six hours, finally landing it in the final hour of the final day. Sensation's owner, Ashley Bleau, has filed a protest and acquired a lawyer. He believes that the mutilation rule is not as clear as it should be, and is not beneficial to the tournament or fishing community.

In light of the disqualification, Sushi's crew was named the first-place winner of the 65th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament with a 484.5lb Blue Marlin—still a monster fish, but not the biggest monster of the day.

READ MORE: How Officials Are Combating Cheating in Tournament Fishing