Fishing tournaments and rodeos are as much a part of South Louisiana culture as Mardi Gras, boudin and crooked politicians. In fact, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo and City Park Big Bass Rodeo both rank among the longest-running such events in the country.
But whenever a fishing competition has money or valuable prizes on the line, the less ethical members of the angling community are going to look for ways to put their thumbs on the scales. Cheating has become such a problem that most tournaments now require winners to pass polygraph tests to receive their prizes. Certainly polygraphs aren’t 100-percent fool-proof, but they’re usually enough to discourage prospective cheaters from attempting any shenanigans.
That’s not always the case, though. The website wideopenspaces.com has documented the five most egregious cases of anglers getting caught for cheating in competitive tournaments. If these knuckleheads would apply their rule-breaking creativity to their fishing, they might not need to cheat.
Here are the incidents:
1. Authorities charged Gary Minor Jr. and Robert Gillaspie with tampering with a sports contest for bringing bass to a Lake Guntersville, Ala., weigh-in that were caught prior to the tournament and held in a cage at a dock.
The anglers were sentenced to 30 days in jail, 400 hours of community service and fines of $1,000 each plus court costs.
2. Minnesota angler Alfred Mead, 72, pleaded guilty to theft by swindle for catching two northern pike at another lake and entering them into the Park Rapid American Legion Community Fishing Derby.
Mead went to jail for a week, and also was fined $200 and banned from hunting and fishing for two years.
The grand prize in the tournament was $10,000.
3. While fishing a tournament, Ronnie Eunice and Brandon Smith came across two anglers who had just boated an 11 1/2-pound bass. The anglers offered Dustin Miller and Sarah Demott cash in exchange for the bass in hopes of winning the tournament’s big-bass pot of $305, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.
The agency charged the tournament anglers with illegal buying and selling of game fish, and also cited Miller for fishing without a license.
4. Officials charged Aaron Lauber and Jason Schuttler, both of Iowa, with felony counts of theft by deception after investigating a tip the men caught fish outside the duration of the Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza, a state-sponsored tournament with a grand prize of $1,500 in cash and a $1,000 Cabela’s gift package.
5. If you need a bass that fits under a lake’s slot limit, you can either fish until you catch one or cut part of the tail fin off one you’ve already caught that’s too big. Texas officials said David Prickey went the latter route, which, of course, is illegal, during a Sealy Big Bass Splash tournament.
Prickey was charged with fraud in a fishing tournament with prizes greater than $10,000, which is a third-degree felony in the state.
Todd Masson can be reached at email@example.com or 504.232.3054.