Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Meaning of Fishing and Cheating do not mix

The fishing world has gotten a lot of attention lately, mostly negative.  I am sure everyone that has clicked over to read this has heard of, or has seen the footage from the "walleye cheaters".  If you haven't, to sum things up quickly...a pair of anglers thought that stuffing about eight pounds of lead sinkers and other items in the stomach of walleyes before the weigh in was an acceptable way to carry themselves.  They ended up wining the event, which would have paid out about $30,000.  It was big regional tournament, and they have won many times before too, it wasn't their time in winning an event.  The tournament director took notice of the walleye and the weights did not seem to fit the length of the fish.  He started to feel around on the stomachs of the fish and felt some oddities.  He then cut them open in front of the anglers/cheaters showing the illegal substances and the police were called.  Things are in the process of charging the men with theft/felonies, and just today their boat and tackle were confiscated by the Ohio DNR.  

So this is what fishing has become, just lie about your fish, break rules on purpose and physically cheat everyone??? Do anything to get fame/fortune by catching fish while cheating?  I have been fishing tournaments for about 30 years, the rumors of cheating have always floated around the fishing circuits, but does it really happen?  I am here to say, that yes it happens.  This national story has slapped the tournament scene right across the face.  Not just for walleyes, but bass too.  Dozens of people have asked me about the "walleye cheaters" in the past week or so, it is a black eye on all tournaments; big or small.  

The older I get, the more
this poster makes sense

All of this has really got me thinking at nights when settling in for the evening.  Why would someone do this?  Mostly it is probably about the fame, wanting to be the best, prove to people that they are better than someone else, and being a champion.  The money is probably secondary and just a bonus to building the anglers' egos.  While most cheaters get away with their tricks, these two "walleye boys" will most likely be going to prison and have a felony on their record for life.  They have truly ruined their lives, possibly their employment and who knows how their family and friends will treat them in the future.  I really hope the law pushes everything at these guys, as I am pretty sure that this was not their first time lying to competitors and tournament directors.  

Moving forward...does this whole incident teach people in the fishing community?  Yes, I believe it does, however for the bad.  99% of tournament anglers would never do anything like this, however I know (because I have been in events where cheating took place) the other 1% who have no morals now have one more way to get an advantage.  Call me a pessimistic old man if you like, but if you have been around the game of tournament fishing, people will burn their best friend for a couple hundred bucks or less.  It's true and it is the ugly part of competitive angling.  

Before this bass season took place I sat down and looked at a lot of different bass tournament schedules, including my kids' schedules who are both between 10-16 years old.  I decided that tournaments would take a back seat this fishing season.  I feared that I would really miss them and drive me a bit more crazy than I am I am on October 12th and I can honestly say I am glad I didn't miss the important things.  I still fished a few tournaments, hosted 5 youth tournaments, had a lot of fun with friends, had some top placings and continued to learn about the game of fishing, which I love even more than tournaments...always have.  I may have found a good balance and a good number of tournaments, but who knows what next year will bring with the schedules.  To all still reading this blog, I hope no matter what you enjoy about the sport, to keep loving it and pass it on to the next generation.  The love of the outdoors is always there, and our kids need to know that.  Enjoy this beautiful fall weather, ice fishing is only about 6 weeks away.

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