Two Anglers Caught Red-Handed In Lake Erie Walleye Tournament. Are you serious?
Ohio Prosecutors have opened an investigation into a cheating scandal that was revealed at Gordon Park in Cleveland during the season's final Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament. Tournament director Jason Fischer was suspicious about the weight of the fish for their size.
Here's his explanation of why he was suspicious, from the Bigwater podcast with Ross Robertson:
“I’m fairly accurate with my weights...I see a lot of fish go across the scales...I’m usually within a pound or so. So I’m watching them put their fish in the basket and I’m thinking there’s a 4 pounder and I’m thinking okay this is a 20-plus pound bag. You know you have a 4 pound average. You got 5 fish. That’s 20 pounds. You know if it’s a 4.2 or a 4.3 you’re going to go over 20 pounds. So I’m expecting that. And the scale jumps to like 33.9 almost a 34 pound bag. And to me that’s better than 6- or 6 1/4-pound average. You’re almost looking at a 7-pound average to get to 35 pounds. I’m just like there’s just no way. There’s zero chance that those fish weighed that.”
Coincidentally, Fischer felt something hard in their bellies, which prompted him to cut open the winning catch of five walleye and found lead weights and fish filets inside the fish. Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky, who were initially the winning anglers, were immediately disqualified.
The disqualification was without a doubt the right thing to do.
Runyan and Cominsky had an amazing stretch of tournament wins leading up to this find, in what other fishermen were saying was an incredible run of luck, creating doubt that they had actually won those tournaments without cheating. Runyan was interviewed on YouTube recently and said "I don't want to sound arrogant or cocky but I am confident that we should do well in this championship also, because...that's just what we do. Winners win."
Well we now know how you were winning, Jacob. Cheaters cheat.
The two had won cash and a boat as their winnings from the previous tournaments and now risk jail time as a result of their theft.
What was supposed to be a tournament to crown the best Walleye fishermen on Lake Erie took a horrible turn when tournament director Fischer discovered that the two anglers who were supposed to be the team to beat, falsified the weight of their catch by stuffing the fish with lead sinkers. And then they had the additional thought to then pad the inside of the walleye with fillets, hoping to prevent the judges from discovering the added weight.
Immediately, tempers flared, as should be expected, and the participants began yelling at Runyan of Cleveland, while his partner, Chase Cominsky of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, quickly retreated to his truck and locked the doors.
“Oh, I think this will go down in history. Nobody ever in the sport of fishing since I’ve been alive has ever been caught this way. They definitely shouldn’t be allowed to compete ever again,” said John Stewart.
The fishermen are now asking how many times the suspects may have cheated, how much did they win as a result of their cheating and can it it be proven in a court of law. However, at this point, no criminal charges have been filed against the two fishermen. The exact level of the cheating scandal may be hard to prove at this point.
Unfortunately there are bad apples in every bunch, and these two thieves should never be allowed to participate in any fishing tournament ever again. Even more, let's go one more step and deny both of them the right to a fishing license for the foreseeable future. And all of their sponsors should revoke all sponsorships for life.
Jason Fishcher spoke directly to fellow anglers while giving a statement Monday night on Facebook live.
“We will fix this. We’ll start by implementing new rules at weigh ins and boat checks. We’ll work hard this off-season to learn from you all as for what safeguards you want to see in our series and I promise you we will implement change,” said Jason Fischer. “You all deserve it. You trusted me and it shows. I make mistakes and we all do, but event after event you prove your loyalty to LEWT and tournament angling. I see your overwhelming support in this challenging time and I’m grateful.”
The Ohio DNR issued this statement:
ODNR wildlife officers responded to the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament on Friday, September 30, 2022 after being contacted by tournament organizers. Officers collected evidence and are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.
As this is an open investigation, we have no further comment at this time.
There's no room for this type of activity in our sport. Thank goodness these two were caught, now hopefully the authorities will do the right thing.
For video on this, go to Fox 8 Cleveland.
Cheers to the great outdoors,