New York Angler Misses Out on $200,000 Fishing Tournament Prize, Claims He Was Too Drunk

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images)

It’s a tale as old as time…angler catches record-breaking big-eye tuna. Then angler loses hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money after getting too drunk to pass a polygraph test. Well, maybe it’s not a popular tale. In fact, this story is likely one of the more unique ones within the competitive angler circuit as one fisherman misses out on a massive “oppor-tuna-ty!”

Angler Claims He Was “Too Drunk” To Pass Polygraph, Costing Him $200,000 In Prize Money

Fifty-eight-year-old Edward Pollner and his captain, Rudolf Bonicelli are facing a battle for an impressive amount of prize money. This comes after the two failed a lie-detector test administered by tournament officials. The polygraph was intended to figure determine whether their massive big-eye tuna catch was on the up and up.

According to the angler, the test is unfair…and invalid. Why? Well, Pollner claims he and Bonicelli were too drunk to pass the polygraph when it was administered.

Drinking Like A Fish

According to the angler and his captain, the tow had been out – drinking like fish – celebrating their massive big-eye tuna catch. Now, they are claiming that the tournament’s hosts, Tri-State Tournaments were in the wrong. Administering the polygraph test too soon after the men returned to the docks.

“Both Mr. Pollner and Mr. Bonicelli had consumed alcohol provided by Tri-State at the post-tournament ceremony,” notes a statement regarding the case.

“And Mr. Bonicelli informed the polygraph examiner that he had not slept the night before,” continues the statement which is part of the current court case.

“Despite the fact that their alcohol consumption and Mr. Bonicelli’s fatigue made them unsuitable examinees under widely accepted polygraph standards, Tri-State proceeded with the polygraphs,” the documents note.

The tournament rules, Pollner, and his buddy note allow for seven days for the test to be administered. They are quite common though when fishermen compete at this level. These lie detector tests are regularly administered to a competing angler to ensure the winners have been following all of the competition’s rules.

A Fishy Tale

Pollner and Bonicelli set off on the competition aboard a 46-foot vessel piloted by Bonicelli. They claim to have snagged their fantastic catch, a 195.6-pound big-eye tuna on the final day. This massive fish would land the fishermen in fourth place in the Tri-State Tournament earning the anglers nearly $200,000.

However, they have yet to see the prize money after they failed the initial polygraph tests where the two were quizzed on whether or not they’d followed “tournament rules. These questions centered around the equipment used. The results, officials note, “indicated deception.”

Both Bonicelli and Pollner passed subsequent lid-detector tests. However, the tournament rejects these results still refusing to release the prize money.