We started getting reports Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, that an angler had been disqualified from the Crappie USA $125,000 Classic on Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee that fished Oct. 25-26, 2019. As shown in the video below, at the 53-minute mark, an angler comes to the stage and the tournament director pulls him to the side to have a discussion. You can hear in the audio discussions on disqualification, authorities, felony, etc. Moments later the angler gathers his fish and leaves without weighing them.
At the end of the weigh-in video (skip to 57:00), tournament director Darrell Van Vactor explains to the crowd that in one of the rare cases in a long history of fair tournaments, an angler had to be disqualified after a video showed the angler leaving and fishing Barkley Lake then returning and attempting to weigh his fish as if he caught them on Old Hickory. The tournament director then informed the angler that he could weigh his fish, get a check and authorities would be called and charges pressed for felony fraud because it was over $500. Or he could gather up his fish, take his DQ and he would be banned for life from ever fishing a Crappie USA event. The angler chose to take his fish and leave.
"Our Classic was amazing in so many ways and boasted some of America's top crappie anglers on hand for the competition," Van Vector said. "We did have the one hiccup that you never want to see happen as a tournament director, but when things like this happen you MUST act in accordance with the rules to protect the angler who spends his/her hard earned dollar to pay entry fees and only ask for a level playing field to test their skills in return. Additionally, if you do not enforce the rules regardless of how much it pains you to do so, you lose what integrity you and your trail have worked hard to build.
"In this case, we did receive information of a possible infraction on Friday from one Crappie USA member not fishing the event and from another Crappie USA member on Saturday also not fishing the event. This information allowed us to put a plan in place to properly deal with the infraction which we did at the Saturday weigh-in. We take no pleasure in disqualifying anyone but will continue to do so when totally warranted to protect the 99.9% of our anglers who would never even consider cheating regardless of the possible monetary award."
Because Crappie USA tournaments allow anglers to launch at multiple ramps and trailer back to weigh-in, this angler must have assumed he could pull off the alleged fraud. But didn't know he was being videoed in the process.
Crappie USA declined to release the name of the angler. Their sole mission was to get this cheater out of their tournaments permanently so no anglers would be defrauded in this event or any future events.
UPDATE: After news spread on Monday, several more sources have cited on social media that it was Paul Turner of Covington, Tenn. that was DQed and banned from the event.
B'n'M Poles posted the following on their Facebook Monday morning:
Turner won an event on Truman Lake on Aug. 17 with fish that other competitors alleged looked odd for the region. Two days later, B'n'M informed him he was being terminated from their prostaff. The pictures that circulated Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 on social media showed Turner in a B'n'M jersey from a previous event, so B'n'M was just clearing the air on their current misperceived association or as it stands, lack thereof.
No word yet on if other crappie tournament trails will follow suit on the ban of Turner. But in previous cases, most circuits follow the lead of the organization that caught and verified a fraudulent or cheating incident.