50th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament; What is the "Big Rock" anyway
What is “The Big Rock”
By: Bill Hitchcock
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So what exactly is the Big Rock? I posed that question to a local charter captain over 25 years ago. He looked at me with a befuddled expression on his face and responded, “It’s a big darn rock!”
And he was right! But that doesn’t explain why the Big Rock is one of the world’s best marlin fishing locations.
The Big Rock is actually a large out cropping located about 40 miles SE of Beaufort Inlet. It sits in varying water depths, but typically is situated between 25 and 70 fathoms.
But just as important as to what the Big Rock is, is where it is. And as with any prime piece of real estate-The key is, “Location, Location, Location”! When it comes to marlin fishing-The Big Rock has the choice spot!
The ocean floor off of our coast has some very interesting characteristics. The floor bottom is quite literally like a set of steps. The first step, which starts from the beach and runs out about 30-40 miles is the continental shelf. It is relatively featureless bottom that averages around 15-17 fathoms in depth.
The second step, an area known as the Blake Plateau, marks a radical change. From shelf waters averaging 15-20 fathoms, the Blake Plateau marks the beginning of 100 fathom water depths. These water depths continue to plummet over a relatively short distance to1000 fathoms. The distance between the 100 fathom drop and the 1000 fathom drop can be as short as just a few miles.
Think of this area as a big gulley. It is significant because this is the area where the Gulf Stream flows. The Gulf Stream is nothing less than a river of warm ocean waters originating from the Gulf of Mexico. It flows at an average speed of 4-6 knots.
Now hold that thought for a moment.
Just how big of an area does the Big Rock cover? In rough terms-If you start at the Atlantic Beach Bridge and go over to the eastern end of the town of Beaufort, and included everything in between-That would be the size and scope of the region.
The Big Rock is located right on the edge of the Continental Shelf where the 100 fathom drop off begins. So now we have this very large outcropping-About the size of Atlantic Beach, Beaufort and parts of Morehead City combined-Sitting on the edge of a big drop off, along the “shores” of a very warm and powerful river.
All fish love structure. They seek it out. It offers them hunting grounds, hiding places and habitat for sustaining life.
Marlin love warm waters. They particularly love 80 degree plus water temperatures and the Gulf Stream brings just that. Typically the only place you will find waters that warm during the month of June is in the Gulf Stream.
The Gulf Stream also brings a type of seaweed called Sargassum. Sargassum provides a home for all types of marine life that larger predator fish feed on. Marlin, in turn feed on these predator fish.
Fishermen look for this seaweed when fishing. Sargassum generally gathers together in long strands, floating on the surface of the water. These stretches of seaweed are referred to by fishermen as a “weed line”. The weed line will gather at places where the water temperature differentiates. The ocean is not one singular mass. It is a compilation of varying pools and eddy’s, each moving independently and with their own water temperature.
One significant area of water temperature differential is usually the edge of the Gulf Stream-Where the Big Rock is located.
Add all of these components together and it becomes evident as to why the Big Rock is one of the world’s most productive marlin fishing locations. You have prime habitat located on the edge of deep water. It is adjacent to the marlin’s ideal water conditions that is laden with food.
Just add a boat, crew, angler and captain and you’ve got world class marlin fishing that only the Big Rock can offer!