Despite less than desirable conditions Thursday, Kilgore held a lead of almost 2 pounds over the next closest angler.
He increased that lead Friday.
He blew it out of the water Saturday.
Kilgore won the Southern Open on Smith Lake by 6 pounds, finishing the three-day bass tournament with 54 pounds, 11 ounces.
Kilgore, who finished eighth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville just two weeks ago, caught the five-fish limit Saturday and weighed in at 16 pounds, 13 ounces.
He finished ahead of Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., who landed five fish weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to close out the tournament with 48 pounds, 11 ounces.
Michael Murphy of Columbia, S.C., finished third with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 15 ounces.
Saturday’s weigh-in was held at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds. Bass Pro Shops is the lead sponsor of the Bassmaster Southern Opens.
With his win Saturday, Kilgore qualified to compete in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, S.C.
“This morning was tough,” Kilgore said following Saturday’s weigh-in. “I thought this morning was the going to be the day to catch a lot of fish, but I ended up catching one here and one there. I had a couple of good ones this morning, but after a while, it got crazy.”
Kilgore said he was especially happy to win the tournament on his home lake, and in front of a home crowd.
“I have a house on Smith Lake, but I haven’t fished the lake since the Open tournament almost two years ago,” he said. “Sure, I grew up on the lake and know a lot about it and its mannerisms, but winning it in Jasper and being able to have my family with me and sleep in my own bed at night, that was priceless.”
In addition to a spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, Kilgore walked away $6,741 and a Nitro Z9 bass boat powered by a Mercury 225 Pro XS.
“This is really exciting to come see the hometown guy win. From Day 1 we watched him progress and do well and it’s a great day for David and his family,” said Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County and the driving force behind the tournament coming to Lewis Smith Lake. “Now we have to root him on the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
“I’m very proud, not only of David, but all the Alabama anglers in the tournament,” Lewis added.
The tournament was deemed a success, Lewis said, because of the effort put forth by the city of Jasper and Walker County, and especially the volunteers who worked each day at the tournament.
“This could not have run so smoothly without the volunteers,” she said. “They are a true team, too. You could hear it from the anglers, who were very appreciative of what was done for them during the tournament.”
Tournament director Chris Bowes said he was impressed with Lewis Smith Lake and the way the tournament was handled.
“Obviously the lake is beautiful, with pristine, deep water,” Bowes said, “and this was a great opportunity for our guys to catch some big, spotted bass that not all the anglers have a chance to catch every day.”
Bowes, like many of the anglers who competed this week, complimented the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County for hosting the tournament.
“We had an outstanding host this week in Walker County,” he said. “I can’t say enough about what the folks did to really make my job easier. There were more than 30 volunteers each morning and afternoon getting the anglers in and out of the water, and it was just a great facility at the dam to host the tournament.”
On the co-angler side of the tournament, Carlton Tipp of Grand Bay landed three fish weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces — including a 6-pound, 14-ounce largemouth — to finish with a three-day total of 24 pounds, 5 ounces and beat Stephen Longobardi, who led after the first two days of the tournament.
Tyler Hicks of Jasper finished fourth in the co-angler division, just 3 pounds behind Tipp.