MONETA, Va. — By just 1 ounce, Robert Hoyt Jr. of Harrisonburg, Va., won the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour stop at Smith Mountain Lake over fellow Virginian David Dudley.
Hoyt totaled 36 pounds, 14 ounces of bass over the three-day tournament to score his first BASS victory on Saturday. With a boost from a fellow contender, Hoyt prevailed over the rough boating and fishing conditions of Smith Mountain Lake to take home the top prize of $24,000 in cash and a $45,000 fully rigged Triton boat powered by a Mercury motor.
The help came from his father, Robert Hoyt of Wirtz, Va., who left one of his productive areas with little time left on Saturday so his son could fish the area and boat his last keeper. The elder Hoyt, who finished in 17th place, knew he wasn't in contention for the win, but that his son, the leader going into the final day, was.
"I was pretty nervous when the day was winding down and I was sitting there with four (keeper fish)," said the younger Hoyt. "I definitely owe him for leaving that spot and he has just done a ton for me in my life."
The spot yielded a 2-pounder that took the son's Carolina rig. It was just enough to hold off Dudley, the 2004 Bassmaster Open winner on Smith Mountain.
A student at James Madison University, Hoyt's goal after he graduates has been to become a pro golfer. But Saturday's victory has him rethinking his career choices.
"I just don't know right now whether to fish or golf for a living," said the 22-year-old. "All I can tell you is that I am going to back to (college) and throwing a huge party for all my friends."
A disappointed Dudley, who finished with 36 pounds, 13 ounces, couldn't claim his second BASS victory on his home lake. He said it was the first day of competition — a day that the 31-year-old caught 10-0 to Hoyt's 12-10 — that lost the tournament for the Lynchburg resident.
"You have to be mentally tough to win this tournament and I didn't capitalize on the first day here," Dudley said. "My mistake was not catching more fish on the first day. I thought conserving my areas was the right move, but obviously it wasn't."
Rounding out the top five were Danville, Va., angler Kenny Reynolds (33-0); 2000 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ and Spring Grove, Va., resident Woo Daves (28-12); and Boones Mill, Va., angler Mark Clingenpeel (27-14).
On the co-angler side, Robert Hudson of Lynchburg, Va., overtook Day 1 and Day 2 leader Bill Uzzell of Covington, Va., to win the co-angler top prize of a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $30,000.
Hudson finished with 14 pounds, 10 ounces, comfortably in front of Jeffrey Freeman of Max Meadows, Va., who had 12-7, and Uzzell, who zeroed on Day 3 and ended with a tournament total of 10-15.
With the conclusion of the Smith Mountain CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour event, three 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifiers and five 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series qualifiers were determined.