Pro Bass Fisherman Mike Iaconelli Weighs in on Viral Walleye Tournament Cheating Scandal

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Bill McCay/Getty Images)

Last week, a tight-knit community was thrown into chaos following a scandal that nearly tore the entire fandom apart. What was once a good-natured band of brothers devolved into a mob-like scene, an enraged horde calling for immediate action, some even demanding jail time for their former friends. And it all came as the result of a few pieces of lead appearing where they shouldn’t.

On Friday, officials overseeing a fishing tournament in Ohio became suspicious of the winners’ catches. Following an investigation, officials revealed the winners had stuffed their catches with lead weights and fish fillets.

The story gained such traction that even famed fisherman Mike Iaconelli weighed in on the situation. “The walleye cheating scandal has taken the world by storm!” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Obviously, it is TOTALLY unacceptable, but what do you think the punishment should be?”

Mike Iaconelli evidently considers the fishermen’s actions just as unjustifiable as those in attendance at the tournament. “Should they be fined? Should they be banned for a year? A lifetime ban? Jail??” Iaconelli added in the accompanying video, brandishing two lead weights similar to those used by the fiendish fishermen.

The Fishing World Agrees With Mike Iaconelli

Learning the truth of their treasonous actions, anglers across the country erupted in anger, disgusted that they would commit such treachery in a friendly competition. Being called out by Mike Iaconelli is no minor occurrence. And the pro bass fisherman is far from the only one to speak out against the cheaters.

In an interview with CNN, one of the (actual) winners of the Ohio fishing tournament revealed that he believes only the maximum punishment will do. “I just hope they get them for everything they can for what they’ve done,” said tournament champ Steve Hendricks.

According to Hendricks, the tournament is an extremely special event for local anglers. “That’s what they love to do,” he said of his fellow fishermen. “And they’re out there trying to do a great job and it’s just unfortunate that a select few can come in and ruin that for you. So I hope they get the max.”

With nearly $30,000 on the line, some don’t mind souring a wholesome event if it means they’re the ones to walk away with the prize. Like Mike Iaconelli and countless other dedicated fishermen, tournament director Jason Fischer hopes this is the last time the event becomes embroiled in scandal.

“We will fix this,” Fischer said. “We’ll start by implementing new rules at weigh-ins and boat checks. We’ll work hard this off-season and learn from you all about what safeguards you want to see in our series.”