It was a long wait for Moneta resident Rick Tilley as the Big Bass Tour tournament at Smith Mountain Lake came to a close over the weekend. He was able to hold on to first place with his winning catch coming just minutes after the tournament’s start.
On Tilley’s fourth cast of the morning April 26, he was able to hook at 6.67-pound bass that no one was able to top for the remainder of the tournament.
“I caught that fish at probably 6:03 [a.m.],” Tilley said.
Tilley wouldn’t reveal exactly where he made his winning catch other than it was somewhere along the Roanoke River section of the lake. He said it was a spot that has been successful for him for the past 15 years.
“It’s a spot that’s kind of hidden,” Tilley said. “It’s in a cove. I don’t think many people know about it.”
Tilley said he didn’t think much of the catch at first, thinking it wasn’t more than 5 pounds. It wasn’t until he brought the fish in for an official weigh-in at Crazy Horse Marina that he realized he may have a shot at winning.
Tilley held off Jeremy Welch who placed second with a catch of 6.40 pounds and David Moffett who placed third with a 6.18-pound catch.
At the tournament’s award ceremony on April 28, Tilley was handed the keys to a new 2019 Nitro Z19 fishing boat from tournament director Scott Gordon.
He also raised the winning trophy with his father, Rick Tilley Sr., who had joined him throughout the weekend tournament and was by his side to accept the award.