CLEVELAND — Controversy erupted at a fishing tournament on Lake Erie in Cleveland on Friday after two anglers were caught cheating by adding lead weights and fish fillets to increase the weight of the fish.
The season-ending LEWT Championship walleye shootout was held at Gordon Park in Cleveland Harbor Friday and Saturday, The Plain Dealer reported.
The fishermen added approximately 8 pounds of total weight to the five fish they caught during the event, Jason Fischer of the Lake Erie Walleye Trail told WXIX-TV.
Fischer said the winning fish “looked smaller” than their recorded weight, the television station reported.
Tournament officials inspected one walleye and discovered the weights and fish fillets, WKYC-TV reported.
Fischer told WXIX that any angler who alters the weight of any caught fish is immediately disqualified from the tournament.
“It’s one thing when you’re sitting at a bar and the fish you say is this big is actually this big,” Adam VanHo, an avid fisherman and criminal attorney, told WKYC. “That’s one thing, but these competitions bring people in from all around the country.”
While the competitors allegedly caught cheating -- Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky -- have not been charged with a crime, the incident has angered and shaken tournament competitors and friends of the men, the television station reported.
“We call it ‘theft by deception,’” VanHo told WKYC, “which essentially is you tried to steal something by making what you’re turning over different.”
“I’m angered about it, I’m sad about it,” northeast Ohio fisherman Kenny Morris told the television station.
Fischer said his biggest concern was running an honest tournament.
“Lake Erie anglers deserve it,” he said in a statement.
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