Omie Jennings “Sportsman” Tillett, 90, of Wanchese, NC passed away on Friday, July 5, 2019. Capt. Omie was a legend to the sportfishing industry & our state. Tillet is credited with the original “Carolina Flare.” Omie Tillett, a pioneer in custom Carolina boat building, constructed one-of-a-kind sportfish boats throughout the 1970s for both charter captains and private owners. He’d fish the summer and build boats in the winter out of his Manteo-based operation named Sportsman Boat Works. “While he is best known for the boats he built and inspired over the decades, what many sportfishermen will remember about Tillet was his voice. For years Tillet would read hand written, 12-plus minute prayers over the VHF to the fleet at the Big Rock Tournament.”
Big Rock Board Member & President of Jarrett Bay Boatworks, Randy Ramsey, named Omie Tillett as one of the most influential people to contribute to Jarrett Bay’s success over the last 25 years.
He wrote: I was fortunate enough to meet Capt. Omie when I fished with him in 1982 on “Sportsman”. We traveled to the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center that fall, and while we were anxious to take part in the white marlin fishing, Capt. Omie wanted a “few fish for the dock”. Little did I know that his definition of a few fish was having a box full! When we started in, the wind breezed up and I was amazed by the way the boat handled in the sea and how well she did compared to the boats I had run. Soon after that trip, we set our goals to build a similar boat that we would use in our charter business.
As time passed, we got to know Omie better and in the fall of 1986, we set out with a plan to build “Sensation”. We went to see Omie and he told us as much as he could about how he built his boats. He gave us advice about methods, materials, and shared his life lesson “nuggets” along the way. We soon started “Sensation” and Omie was open and helpful throughout the entire process. For many years, I have been proud to say our boats have a direct lineage to Sportsman Boatworks.
Over the years Omie has become a wonderful friend and I am proud that he kids with me and calls me his son. He is a favorite at the Big Rock, and many people are inspired by his morning prayer on the radio. He always makes time to share his knowledge, give you a hug, and let you know he “loves you”. Omie’s generosity and sense of family has been a guiding force in all we do at Jarrett Bay, and we are proud that he is part of our lineage.”
We’re blessed to have been apart of Capt. Omie’s journey & will continue to honor his legacy. Thank you Captain Omie Tillet for the countless lessons, inspiration & memories.