This weekend got revved up on social media when videos began surfacing from angry anglers in Cleveland, Ohio after tournament director Jason Fischer of the Lake Erie Walleye Tour (LEWT) slices open the fish of the supposed winning duo of Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky to find lead weights had been stuffed down their throats. In fact, when it was all said and done, Fischer found 8 pounds of lead weights, other walleye fillets and pliers inside of the fish that gave the team a weight that easily won the tournament.
After he cut the first weights out of the first fish, Fischer DQed them on the spot with a scream that ignited the crowd of very angry anglers, and throwing his fist into the air with a “You’re out of here!” like a Major League Baseball umpire.
You can watch the video of it all happen here. Warning there is quite a bit of cursing in this video. If you’re offended by foul language, you might want to turn the volume off. The police were called and it was probably lucky for the alleged cheaters that they were as a lot of these anglers were contemplating how much money has been potentially fraudulently taken from them over the last few years.
But this video evidence appears enough to sink their boat as anglers, tournament competitors and possibly land them in heavy legal battles and possibly jail. It will be hard for them to show up at any boat ramp around Lake Erie for sure.
Unfortunately this is not their first fishing controversy. They were disqualified after being named the winners of the Fall Slam walleye event last fall on Lake Erie for failing a polygraph. Anglers speaking after the melee on Friday, said they think this duo has won hundreds of thousands of dollars the last few years on Erie and now all if it is in question.
LEWT Owner Jason Fischer said that he called the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and turned all the evidence and video of what happened over to them as well as to the authorities. Investigations are pending now and the Ohio DNR spokesperson said they could not comment on a pending investigation at this time.
There is a lot more information on their DQ last year on the Toledo Blade and a nice op ed about this apparent cheating scandal as well here on the Toledo Blade.
Here is more about the event with the tournament director from our friend Ross Robertson on his Bigwater Podcast.
Fischer talked in the podcast about how he caught the guys.
“I’m fairly accurate with my weights … I see a lot of fish go across the scales … I’m usually within a pound or so. So I’m watching them put their fish in the basket and I’m thinking there’s a 4 pounder and I’m thinking okay this is a 20-plus pound bag. You know you have a 4 pound average. You got 5 fish. That’s 20 pounds. You know if it’s a 4.2 or a 4.3 you’re going to go over 20 pounds. So I’m expecting that. And the scale jumps to like 33.9 almost a 34 pound bag. And to me that’s better than 6- or 6 1/4-pound average. You’re almost looking at a 7-pound average to get to 35 pounds. I’m just like there’s just no way. There’s zero chance that those fish weighed that.”
Here are photos that surfaced after the LEWT event Friday.
We’ll update the story as more information comes in.