The 26th Annual Kelly Wagner Lady Angler Tournament was held at Big Rock Landing at Morehead City on Saturday. The women-only tournament is a kickoff to the official 65th Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament that starts Monday.

“We have a record-breaking tournament this year, we have 266 boats fishing (Saturday),” said KWLA Tournament director Carlee Sharpe. “The ladies tournament is 26 years old, it started back in the late 90s to get women involved in competitive sport fishing. So over the years, it has gone from having 13 boats to 266”.

Sharpe said the women anglers reel in 500-pound marlins, just like the men usually do during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. She noted the fish caught range from a few inches, to over five feet in length.

(Abigail Velez, WNCT photo)

The tournament raises money for cancer clinics in Carteret County. Sharpe said they have raised $450,000.

It’s a great event with an even better cause– according to The Lady Gradys. When asked what she loves about the KWLA Tournament, Lady Grady member, Sheilah Cotten said, “Everything about it, the fun, the fishing, the fellowship, meeting new people.”

Her friend, Angela Gilliman agreed.

“I’ve learned so much about fishing, I’ve learned so much about breast cancer awareness. There’s nothing like the sisterhood and being on the water,” said Lee Heath.

Different from the men’s tournament, all of the game fish caught at the KWLA were not weighed. Event staff noted that fish caught Saturday were still big in size and estimated to range from ten to 180 pounds.

(Abigail Velez, WNCT photo)

Tournament results

Grand Slam won the KWLA Tournament with billfish releases totaling 961.8 points. Weldor’s Ark was second at 809.8 and Magical Moment was third at 800.

Find out more about the tournament and Saturday’s events by clicking here.