A grand jury in Wood County, Texas has indicted a Bridgeport man that allegedly trimmed the tail of a bass to get it under the slot limit size on Lake Fork to win prizes at the September 2018 Sealy Big Bass Splash.
Terry Keith Long has been charged with third degree fraud of a fishing tournament.
The following is the information we were given according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife representative:
On Sept. 22, 2018, at the Sealy Big Bass Splash on Lake Fork, a fisherman by the name of Terry Long brought a fish in to be weighed. Further investigation revealed that his fish had been altered with its tail trimmed to fall within the slot limit. A case was presented to the Wood County grand jury on fraud: fresh water fishing tournament >=$10,000 3rd degree felony. The Wood County grand jury indicted Mr. Long and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Mr. Long was arrested Friday, March 9, 2019 and posted the $25,000 bond.
Lake Fork has a slot limit where only fish measuring less than 16 inches or more than 24 inches may be kept. Sealy’s Big Bass Splash awards numerous hourly and daily prizes in their multi-day tournaments.
Here is how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code - PARKS & WILD § 66.023. Fraud in Fishing Tournaments reads:
Sec. 66.023. FRAUD IN FISHING TOURNAMENTS
(a) In this section, "fishing tournament" means a contest in which a prize is to be awarded to one or more participants in the contest based on the weight, length, number, or type of fish caught by the participants or based on any other criteria applicable to the fish caught.
(b) A person commits an offense if, with intent to affect the outcome of a fishing tournament:
(1) the person provides, offers to provide, sells, or offers to sell a fish to a participant in the tournament for the purpose of representing that the fish was caught by the participant in the course of the tournament;
(2) the person, as a participant in the tournament, accepts or agrees to accept a fish from another person for the purpose of representing that the fish was caught by the participant in the course of the tournament;
(3) the person, as a participant in the tournament, represents that a fish was caught by the person in the course of the tournament when in fact the fish was not caught by that person or the fish was not caught in the course of that tournament;
(4) the person alters the length or weight of a fish for the purpose of representing that the fish as entered in the tournament was that length or weight when caught; or
(5) the person enters a fish in the tournament that was taken in violation of any provision of this code or a proclamation or regulation of the commission adopted under this code.
This is not the first time someone has attempted to alter a bass's tail to weigh-in in one of these events. An anglers was caught in a 2015 event as you can read here.