Texas Man Charged with Felony for Trimming Tournament Bass Tail

   10.05.15

If you cheat at a fishing tournament in Texas, the last thing you should expect is a slap on the wrist. Officials with the Texas game wardens say one angler is looking at felony fraud charges after attempting to pass off a doctored fish at a tournament on Lake Fork last month. What is strange is that the angler was not trying to make the bass seem heavier, but rather smaller.

“Game Wardens working Lake Fork encountered a subject fishing a tournament who admitted to allegedly cutting the tail on a bass to make the overall fish length fall within the slot limit,” wardens wrote on their Facebook page. “This allegation constitutes fishing tournament fraud and is a Felony (TPW Code 66.023). Case and restitution pending.”

Neither officials or the tournament organizers have released the name of the perpetrator.

The incident occurred during this year’s Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash on Lake Fork, the world’s largest amateur bass fishing tournament series. The competition gives out hourly cash prizes along with a grand prize of of a Ram Truck, 2015 Triton boat, and $7,000 in cash. The prizes are tempting targets for cheaters, which explains the organizers’ diligence in weeding out doctored or ineligible fish before they reach the weigh-in. Anglers participating in the tournament also agreed to random polygraph tests during the event.

According to wired2fish.com, the angler was allegedly aiming for the tournament’s under the slot prize of $2,500. Lake Fork currently has a 16- to 24-inch slot limit and fish between those measurements must be immediately released. Anglers are only allowed to keep bass over and under those measurements. With those rules in place, it was easy enough for the angler to take a pair of snips and trim down the fish’s tail when it came time for inspection. What he did not expect, however, was how easy the changes were for wildlife officials to spot.

Wardens with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are traditionally present at the weigh-in and upon examining the doctored fish, instantly noticed the alteration. Although polygraph tets were present, the angler admitted under questioning that he had doctored the fish as a way to circumvent the lake limits. Game wardens pulled his entries and removed the man from the tournament. Although officials have not specified what kind of restitution the angler is looking at, it is likely to be in excess of the $2,500 prize the man was hoping to win.

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