Beaufort County represented well at “Big Rock” tournament

Published 6:06 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

MOREHEAD CITY —The 61st-annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament wrapped up last weekend in Morehead City, and some folks from Beaufort County on the boat “Job Site” picked up a first place finish for the largest dolphin caught.

This year’s tournament displayed the single largest marlin in the tournament’s history with a 914-pounder that was weighed in last Saturday night from the “Top Dog” boat. The catch shattered the previous record of an 833-pound Blue Marlin caught by “Citation” in 2010. The second place marlin in the 2019 tournament came in from “Wolverine”, weighing in at 588.9 pounds.

However, the “Job Site” boat team consisted of a few people from Beaufort County that included 11-year-old Michael Cripe, who reeled in a 53.7-pound dolphin on the first day of the six-day-long tournament.

Michael Cripe described the day as, “The best and worst day of his life,” after battling seasickness for most of the day on Monday according to his dad, Craig Cripe.

“Job Site” went out off the coast roughly 50 miles before dropping lines in the water. Michael and Craig Cripe were only able to fish one day of the tournament, and it just so happened that Michael would reel in his first ever dolphin, and it ended up being the largest catch of the tournament for the dolphin species.

“It was just a tremendous experience,” Craig Cripe said. “I am very proud of him. He fought the fish for 45 minutes and he never gave up on it. The captain and the crew all did a great job; it was definitely a team effort getting that fish in.”

The owner of the boat, Bill Farrior, also has ties to the Beaufort County area as he grew up in the Washington area and now resides in Greenville. Stewart Dudley, one of the “Job Site’s” mates, also lives in Washington, while Michael and Craig Cripe are from the Bath area. Farrior has been fishing in the Big Rock tournament since 2002 with “Job Site” and deep-sea fishing for over 30 years.

Bill Farrior’s boat has consisted of the first-place junior angler in the tournament for the last eight out of nine years that includes his son, William Farrior, who won junior angler of the year in the tournament six times.

“We put Michael in the fighting chair with the big fish on, because we had three (dolphin) hooked at the same time,” Bill Farrior said. “It went down deep like a dolphin can, it started circling the boat, swam around and around the boat. We slowly got it close before knew it was going to be a good fish. I was so excited for him.”

“Job Site” also finished in fifth place out of over 160 boats in the Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament, in which only female anglers could reel in any of the catches. The Keli Wagner tournament kicked off the rest of the “Big Rock” tournament last Saturday.

“Job Site” will likely participate in next year’s Big Rock tournament after having plenty of success in the 2019 edition, and Michael Cripe might be looking for a repeat performance to reclaim the throne for the largest dolphin caught in next year’s tournament as well.