Former Tar Heel hoopster is leading angler at Big Rock
Posted June 13, 2011
Updated June 14, 2011
Former UNC basketball player Travis Stephenson should go buy a lottery ticket. Then again he may have caught one on the first day of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament out of Morehead City, NC.
Stephenson was the angler when a 652.8 pound blue marlin hit the line just after noon. In a little over an hour the crew of the boat Double B had the fish on board. "It was a text book catch, " Stephenson told WRAL.
One of the crewmen on board was boat owner Harry Smith, Jr., a classmate of Stephenson at Clayton High. "We were just a bunch of guys jumping around, hugging each other with tears in our eyes, " Stephenson said after the one-hour fight to land the fish on the boat.
A trip to the scales pushed the Double B fish to the top of the leader board after the first day of the 53rd annual Big Rock Tournament. If they remain there, the winning crew would win $524,375 in prize money.
The boat Blue Water landed a 581 pound blue marlin and is in second position after the first day.
Last year the boat Citation caught a whopping 883 pound marlin and would have won the tournament. But one of the crewmen didn't have a tournament required fishing license so they were disqualified and lost $890,000.
Does Stephenson have his fishing license? "Oh yeah, I have it! " he quickly replied. "We wouldn't let anyone on board (Monday) morning without visual proof."
Stephenson's only day to fish in the Big Rock was Monday. He had to get back to work on Tuesday as the vice-president of retail sales for Flanders Corporation.
Whether he is the winning angler of this year's Big Rock tournament, Stephenson says, "This is bucket list kind of stuff here," referring to catching his first blue marlin in a tournament like this. "If someone catches a bigger fish, this is still a top 5 event for me."
The former Clayton Comet star already has a national championship ring he earned as a senior playing basketball at North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat Michigan to win the 1993 national championship.