Cleveland Authorities Investigating Cheating Allegations at Lake Erie Fishing Tournament

by Amy Myers
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

After declaring the winner of the Lake Erie fishing tournament last week, Cleveland authorities believe that the massive catch may have been a fake.

The allegations arose after two anglers managed to snag yet another title-winning fish along the Lake Erie Walleye Trail. But celebrations didn’t last long as bystanders soon found out that the fish had lead weights and even other fish filets in its belly. According to one video, this may not even have been the first time that America’s fishing “team of the year” committed this fraud.

In one of the clips, the tournament director for the Lake Erie Walleye Trail, Jason Fischer (yes, that’s his real last name), cuts open the fish in front of a crowd of bystanders and fellow contestants. Fischer suspected that the walleye was a fake because it appeared much heavier than a walleye should for that size. Sure enough, there were the weights and extra filets inside.

Take a look at the moment the fishing pro exposed the frauds. Beware, though, that there is a fair amount of expletive language from the outraged crowd.

The winning walleye wasn’t the only one that the team stuffed either. Apparently, they had created quite a few contenders in order to win the revered fishing tournament.

County Prosecutor Will Be Holding Fishing Frauds ‘Accountable’ For Crime

Naturally, following the discovery, officials disqualified Runyan and Cominsky from the tournament. Judging from the video, though, that was the least of their worries. Quite a few voices in the crowd called for legal action, accusing the team of theft. As they inched closer to the action, Fischer made sure that the suspects would leave “untouched.”

They seemed to have left the competition without issue, but now that Cleveland authorities are investigating the matter, they may face some hefty fines. A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources stated that the department has collected the evidence from the tournament and will be presenting a report to the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley on Tuesday.

“I take all crime seriously, including attempted felony theft at a fishing tournament,” O’Malley said in response to the discovery. “These individuals will be held accountable.”

Likewise, Fischer expressed his disappointment on Facebook.

“Disgusted guys and gals, I’m sorry for letting you down for so long and I’m glad I caught cheating taking place in YOUR LEWT [Lake Erie Walleye Trail] at the same time,” he wrote in a post on Sept 30. 

“I can’t think enough to post results, but congrats Tsczyko and French and TOY Hendricks and Ulmer. Same goes to the yak and open winners. I hope you know now that when I say ‘you built this LEWT and I will defend its integrity at all costs’, I mean it. You all deserve the best,” he continued.