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Cheaters Never Win: 5 Times Tournament Anglers Got Busted for Cheating

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Cheaters never win, and here’s proof of five tournament anglers that got what they deserved for unfair play.

The drive to win can be all-consuming and destructive. Regardless, fishing is a hobby that celebrates skill, selection, and the tiniest bit of luck. Here are five cases of when the crime of cheating didn’t pay.

1. Bringing caged bass to a tournament

Photo courtesy of Marshall County Sheriff's Office
Marshall County Sheriff’s Office

Lake Guntersville anglers Gary Minor, Jr. and Robert Gillaspie were charged with “Tampering with a Sports Contest,” a misdemeanor in the state of Alabama, for bringing bass to weigh-in that were caught prior to the tournament and kept in a cage at a dock.

The two anglers were given a 1-year suspended jail sentence if they served 30 days, completed 400 hours of community service at the Lake Guntersville State Park and paid $1,000 each plus court costs. After being sent to jail, they were given the option to make a $1,000 bond under the condition that they forfeit their hunting and fishing privileges.

2. The lake switch

Photo courtesy of Park Rapids Enterprise
Park Rapids Enterprise

Minnesota angler and Park Rapid American Legion Community Fishing Derby participant, Alfred Mead, confessed to bringing two northern pike that were caught at another lake to the tournament. The 72-year-old man has two prior gaming convictions and a long trail of suspicious tournament winnings. He pled guilty to a felony charge of “Theft by Swindle.”

Mead received a week’s stay at the Hubbard County Jail, as well as four years probation, a $200 fine, is barred from the American Legion for the duration of his probation, barred from fishing in tournaments for four years, and barred from hunting and fishing for two years. The maximum penalty for his crime is five years in jail and a $10,000 fine, so technically the old man got off easy. The grand prize in the tournament was a $10,000 purse.

3. Splitting the game fish winnings

Georgia DNR with an 11.5 pound bass purchased from recreational anglers during tournament play

Georgia anglers Ronnie Eunice and Brandon Smith purchased an 11.5-pound bass from recreational anglers Dustin Miller and Sarah Demott during a tournament in Georgia. Eunice and Smith offered to weigh the bass and then offered the other two anglers cash for the fish to win the big bass pot of $305.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division issued charges for “illegal buying and selling of game fish,” as well as issuing an additional citation to Miller for fishing without a license. The bass was dead by the time it was confiscated by GA DNR officials.

4. Theft by deception

Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department
Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department

Iowa anglers 23-year-old Aaron Lauber of Clear Lake, and 25-year-old Jason Schuttler of Manly, were charged with felony counts of theft by deception after the Iowa DNR investigated a tip about their fish being caught outside the duration of the tournament.

Teams paid $75 to enter the state-sponsored tournament, called the “Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza,” which consisted of a grand prize of $1,500 in cash as well as a $1,000 Cabela’s gift package.

5. Altering the fin 

Wood County Sheriff’s Office

Texas angler David Neal Prickey, admitted to Game Wardens that he had altered the cadual fin of a largemouth bass caught on Lake Fork during the Sealy Big Bass Splash tournament so the fish would fit within the lake’s slot limit.

Tournament prizes included a new truck, boat, and thousands of dollars in cash winnings. Prickey was charged with Fraud in a Fishing Tournament with Prizes Greater than $10,000. The charge is a third degree felony in the state.

All of these anglers learned the hard way that crime doesn’t pay.
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Cheaters Never Win: 5 Times Tournament Anglers Got Busted for Cheating