MOREHEAD CITY - Lady anglers ventured into deep waters Saturday for the 17th annual Keli Wagner Lady Angler Tournament.
The Blue Marlin tournament starts Monday June 9 and goes until June 14. The Big Rock is the largest blue marlin tournament on the east coast, and brings in people from across the country.
Known as one of Eastern North Carolina's marquee events, the fishing will happen rain or shine. Forecasts for the week show a chance of scattered thunderstorms Monday to Friday. Saturday the skies were clear with nice sunny weather.
A record breaking 79 boats participated in the Keli Wagner Lady Angler tournament Saturday.
Team members from the boat named, Inspiration hold this tournament close to their hearts -especially Caroline Wagner.
"It was just really special to be out there with my family, to be able to fish with my family, and for my mom," Caroline said.
The tournament is named after her mother, Keli Wagner. Keli died of cancer more than five years ago. The charity tournament has been renamed ever since.
This tournament is only one day but its part of the Big Rock tournament. Media director Bruce Paul said money spent during the week-long tournament rolls over an average of seven times into the community. He said it brings in millions of dollars to the crystal coast every year.
"People come in to fish, have a good time, go to the restaurants, stay in the hotels, and they shop in the stores," Paul said.
For Caroline, she likes to compete but it's also a special day to remember her mom.
"I definitely look forward to it because I just feel closer to her," Carolina said.
Caroline caught a blue marlin, something that doesn't happen very often.
"Its just awesome to be able to reel in that fish," Caroline said.
Proceeds from entry fees will benefit the Rob Oncology Clinic for patient comfort and care in the amount of $20,500. The KWLA director said more money could be raised for the charity.
The total amount of money awarded to competitors in the tournament is $47,000.
The KWLA bill fish winner gets $8,393.
The winner take all Dolphin category will be awarded $33,725.
The remaining money is separated among the largest Dolphin, Wahu and Tuna.