After all, who hasn’t been afraid to head back to the office after a happy week off?
But Taylor’s miserable daydreams — exacerbated by a new case of sunburn — were more than just the fear of the drudgery that comes with unopened emails and voicemails.
That’s because he was a key part of the crew of a fishing boat that landed a 54.1-pound dolphin — the mahi mahi on the list — worth $527,000 at the Big Rock Blue Marlin course last week in Morehead City.
“This is a very good week,” Taylor said in what may be an underestimation of the century. “It would take that to the law firm, too.”
Big rock big deal
The Big Rock Championship, in case you are not familiar with the sport of fishing, is a big deal. Pretty big deal, actually.
It’s a six-day extravaganza with a record purse of $5.8 million, and prize money across 10 categories open to anyone from weekend warriors to professional guides and paid crews.
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The crew is trying to land the tournament of the same name Blue Marlin, of course. They also hunt white marlin and sailfish.
The first blue marlin of the week weighing more than 500 pounds – 572.6 pounds caught by boat from Virginia Beach – made $777,000. This boat, the Mercenaria, won the first prize in the tournament of $3.5 million.
For Taylor and the crew aboard the Carolina Time, hooking the week’s heaviest dolphin has paid off big, too.
As the large cartoon check full of zeros is visually attested.
“Here’s the thing,” Taylor said. “You can catch a ton of dolphins over the course of a week. But it’s a launcher, a lottery really, to catch the biggest. Nobody will be disappointed.”
(The dolphin, according to the National Marine Sanctuary, is a mammal, and thus differs from the delicious dolphin fish that is usually ordered under the dinner name “mahi mahi.” Who wants to eat a flipper?)
Over the course of the tournament, the crew can choose from four out of six days of fishing. Of course, much of that decision depends on the weather and conditions on the ocean since boats that can exceed 60 feet in length will sail up to 60 miles offshore.
It’s not that Taylor knows exactly how far off Carolina’s time was or exactly where they got that half-million-dollar trophy.
His job in what amounted to being his first companion was to be in charge of everything to do with hunting. Taylor hangs the fish before handing the stick to a fisherman who fights it for an hour or more before his mate pulls the fish into the boat.
“The captain is driving the boat. He’s facing the front,” Taylor said. “I’m in the back trying not to fail.”
Get an award
The big fish dolphin landed on Thursday, June 16th.
“You can see it was big,” Taylor said. “I threw the bait in the water and it bit off.”
As you might expect, this wasn’t Taylor’s first trophy; The 39-year-old fisherman is no novice.
After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in 2006, he worked as a fishing boat crew member, guide, and on occasion was assigned to help move boats from port to port.
“I was terrified of an office job after I graduated from college,” he said. “I thought you went into an office and walked out when you were 80. I know now that’s not how it works.”
A few years later, when the time was right, Taylor went to Wake Forest Law School. He has now settled, husband and father practicing civil law in Winston-Salem.
However, the love for the sea did not leave.
So when a friend from his former life, Captain Jay Blount of Carolina Time, asked if he wanted to take part in this year’s Big Rock Championship, the answer was clear.
“For me, with my background, I’d get paid to fish,” Taylor said. “Even if I lose (the tournament) I still earn money.”
Different crews do things in different ways. Some even divide expenses and profits. Other boat owners may choose to cover the costs themselves, hire hands and keep the lion’s share of the earnings.
So it was for Taylor, a full-time attorney and part-time fisherman. It is a rental pistol, and it is estimated that its share of the prize is about 7% – $36,890 before taxes.
Not very shabby. Even if it cost him a sunburn.
As for the dolphinfish, after the crew brought it up with him, dinner was served shortly after finding out on Saturday that it was already the biggest week of the week.
“It was delicious. The most expensive one I’ve ever had.”