Home > Follow-Up > From Holy Roller to Convicted Felon: A bass fisherman’s fall from grace – Part 1

From Holy Roller to Convicted Felon: A bass fisherman’s fall from grace – Part 1

For many years Robby Rose had a strong reputation as a talented bass angler who was successful in many Texas tournaments.  This all changed last October when Mr. Rose was disqualified from a tournament after officials discovered a 16 oz weight in his fish’s stomach.

Very little information was made public about the case in the past six months.  Many armchair anglers stated that the right thing to do is to withhold judgment until Mr. Rose had a chance to tell his side of the story in court.  Mr. Rose had the opportunity to tell his side this morning.

Today, April 13, 2010, Robby Rose of Garland, TX pled guilty to the charge of Attempted Theft over $20,000 but less than $100,000 in Rockwall County Texas Court.  The charge is a “state jail felony” that will mar Mr. Rose’s record for the rest of his life.

Those holding out hope that this whole story was big misunderstanding are no doubt disappointed this evening.

From a vantage point of three states away, having never personally met any of the characters in this story, the following is the summary of Mr. Rose’s fall from grace as I understand it.

Failure in the Minor Leagues

Robby Rose had a reputation as a talented fishermen and harder worker.  Many claim that no-one else could match the hours he put on the water.  Despite his hard work, he struggled to get to the next level.  Around ten years ago, he entered numerous tournaments with only marginal results.  From 1997-2004 he entered 21 BASS tournaments with a total winnings of $667.

The Miraculous Improvement

After failing out as a minor league pro, Mr. Rose turned his efforts on the highest levels of amateur events.   By 2007 Mr. Rose was the highest earning angler in the Skeeter Bass Champs Tournament Trail—a very highly respected amateur circuit.  After a win at Cedar Creek, Bass Champs noted, “This is Robby’s 5th win in a Bass Champs team event.  After today, his winning total $120,000 so far!”.

By many accounts, Robby was gracious with his wins always thanking, “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.   The fact that Mr. Rose constantly, and loudly, professed his faith to all who would listen would not help him in the PR department once allegations of cheating arose.

It should be noted that Mr. Rose consistently passed polygraph tests after each tournament win.

Mr. Rose fished solo in a team event under brutal weather conditions.  He was one of only two boats to bring in a limit.  Think about that—236 anglers fished that event.  Most, if not all of them, were working as teams to bring in five fish and could not do it.  Yet, Mr. Rose was supposedly able to catch more fish and bigger fish than those teams working together.

The suspicions of bass anglers were beginning to rise at this point.

Too Good to be True

After his uncanny string of in-the-money wins, Bass Champs notified Mr. Rose that an independent observer would be placed in his boat for future tournament events.  Note they did NOT tell him that he couldn’t fish Bass Champs events–only that he would have an independent observer in his boat.

At this point Mr. Rose elected to not fish any more Bass Champs tournaments.  This decision made Mr. Rose look even more suspicious in the eyes of the bass fishing community that already had questions about his uncanny level of success.

The blogger ReelTruth said…”Robby Rose took a fishing rod in one hand and a bible in the other and tore through the local Dallas area tournaments like Moses through the Red Sea”.

He did continue to fish other regional tournament trails, and continued to perform well.  For example, In June 2009 Robby Rose fished a Bud Light Trail (BLT) tournament and had a second place finish, competing solo against 41 boats in a team format.  Experienced tournament fishermen know that team tournaments are a very different animal than solo events or draw events.  An angler fishing solo can make maybe 3,000 cast a day.  Two anglers fishing as a team, can make 6,000 cast a day.  Working together, team anglers can frequently dial in a pattern quicker than an angler fishing solo simply because they are getting twice as many bites as the angler fishing solo.

The numbers alone make it hard for a solo angler to compete against a team. Therefore, it was highly suspicious when Robby Rose caught 21.66 lbs, followed by a team with 14.90 lbs, and 38 additional teams catching even less.

Many anglers thought Mr. Roses success sounded too good to be true and expressed concern to Bud Light Trail (BLT) Manager Jeff Fisher.  After the Cedar Creek tournament, Mr. Fisher says that he received feedback from several anglers stating that they liked fishing the BLT trail, but would not participate if Robby Rose was fishing it.

Luck Runs Out

On October 24, 2009, at the hourly big bass weigh-in of a Bud Light Trail tournament on Lake Hubbard, Robby Rose submitted a bass that would be the largest fish of the hour and therefore would win a prize.

As is customary in many large tournaments, the fish was put in a chemically treated holding tank prior to being released.  Jeff Fisher says that as a matter of practice the BLT watches big fish prior to being released in the lake.  In fact, earlier in the day a big fish had to be fizzed prior to being released.

While in this tank tournament officials noted irregularities with Robby Rose’s fish.

Until now we have not heard exactly what “irregularities” were observed that made the BLT officers suspect a weight was in the fish.  Jeff Fisher explained exactly what happened.

As is BLT’s practice, they examined the fish to make sure it was okay prior to releasing the fish.  When they placed it back in the tank it, “dropped like a rock” says BLT manager Jeff Fisher.  They then looked at the fish closer and it was obvious that an object was in the fish’s stomach. We now know that a 16 oz weight was lodged in a 9.5 lb bass.

At this point the polygraph test was interrupted and Robby Rose and polygraph examiner Joe Morris joined BLT Tournament Director (TD) Bryan Davis at the holding tank.  At this point Mr. Rose was told that he had the choice of getting the object out himself, or witnessing them remove it themselves.  Robby put his finger in the fish’s mouth and pulled the 16 oz weight back out through the fish’s mouth.  He then said, “Sorry”, and walked away.

Interestingly, the fish survived the ordeal and was later released.

At this point two important things happened that greatly effected the outcome of this case.

Firstly, as the men witnessed Robby pull a 16 oz weight out of the fish’s mouth, the group was somewhat stunned.  This is not something even the most seasoned TD sees every day.  Polygraph examiner Joe Morris realized the significance of what he had just witnessed and knew that that the 16 oz weight was now evidence in a criminal investigation, and therefore knew that the weight must be handled appropriately.  He took steps to make sure the evidence chain was handled properly so that no credible defense of tainted evidence would later arise.

Secondly, the men immediately called a game warden to make authorities aware of what was going on.  Luckily, TPWD Warden Tom Carbone happened to be arriving on scene by coincidence.  Once apprised of the situation Deputy Carbone took handled the situation perfectly.  BLT Trail officials said that Deputy Carbone not only took care of evidence and statements at the tournament, but also did an excellent job of investigating the incident in the weeks that followed.

Note: Click here for Part 2 of this story.  Your comments are welcome–most especially if I have misreported a fact.

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  1. Richard Abshire
    April 14, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I’m a reporter with the Dallas Morning News and I’m writing a story for tomorrow about Robby Rose. I would appreciate a chance to discuss this case with the person who posted this entry.
    My office phone number is 469-***-****; my cell number is 214-***-***.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Please note that this article was revised ~ 12:30 PM CST on 4/14/2010.

  3. January 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Great story with all the facts

  1. April 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm
  2. April 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm

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