Authorities Seize Boat That Anglers Used in Walleye Fishing Tournament Scandal

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images)

Investigators have seized a boat and trailer from a man in Hermitage, Pennsylvania after he was accused in a walleye fishing tournament scandal. Officials from the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources seized the items with a warrant, as the boat was allegedly used during the cheating scandal.

The boat was a Ranger Pro Fisherman registered to Hermitage local Chase Cominsky. He and his partner Jacob Runyan of Cleveland face charges after they were found putting lead weights in their fish at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship in Cuyahoga County, Ohio last month. A search warrant showed that every fish they caught subsequently had lead weights inside it.

The fishing tournament organizers immediately disqualified Cominsky and Runyan. They then alerted the police and state wildlife officials. Police and wildlife officers sent the report to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation. Cominsky and Runyan are also being investigated in Rossford, Ohio for a cheating scandal in April.

Mercer County District Attorney Pete Acker told WKBN out of Hermitage that he was contacted to assist in obtaining a warrant for the property seizure. “We work cooperatively with our partners, whether it’s the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office or ODNR or any other law enforcement,” said Acker.

According to reports, in the past few years, Cominsky and Runyan have won a string of fishing competitions. These have included cash prizes and a fishing boat. Just this year, they won three Lake Erie Walleye Trail events. They pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in prize money from those contests, in addition to others. Turns out, they were most likely scamming every contest they were involved in.

Winner of Walleye Fishing Tournament Calls Out Cheaters

A fisherman from Cleveland, Ohio called out Cominsky and Runyan after their cheating was revealed. Steve Hendricks won the fishing tournament, but had some choice words for the alleged cheaters.

“I just hope [police officials] get them for everything they can for what they’ve done,” Hendricks told CNN. “And [the anglers] out there trying to do a great job and it’s just unfortunate that a select few can come in and ruin all that for you. So I hope [Cominsky and Runyan] get the max.”

Apparently, the two were caught on video stuffing their catches with weights to make them seem heavier. “They picked up a fish that should have weighed about four pounds and they set it on the scale and it said eight,” Hendricks explained. “And then they put the rest of their five in and it came up to 35.”

The thing about experienced anglers is they can usually clock a fish’s weight by sight. Or, at least make a pretty accurate estimate. So for Cominsky and Runyan to have heavier catches than normal seemed extra fishy.