Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.
On Feb. 15, New York wildlife officers were patrolling Great Sacandaga Lake when they discovered evidence of an angler's attempt to cheat in an ice fishing derby.
According the the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the officers were searching the area the night before the start of the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries derby and the Walleye Challenge. Then they spotted a tip-up someone had left overnight, which is against the law in New York.
Upon further investigation, the state conservation officers discovered an unoccupied fishing shanty and a 32-inch northern pike someone was clearly keeping alive in the water. It was obvious someone was planning to enter the fish into the tournament as one he had caught.
"When we asked about his luck fishing that day, the angler proudly stated that he caught a big northern pike earlier in the morning, entered it in the contest, and released it," the DEC press release states. "After the ECOs informed the subject that they had been out the previous night, the angler admitted to the wrongdoings."
Because the tournament didn't start until the next morning, the fish was disqualified and the fisherman received a ticket for the unattended tip-ups.
On the bright side, it turns out it wouldn't have mattered either way, as the fourth-place pike measured 35 5/8 inches. The winning fish was 40 7/8 inches.
This isn't the first time we've seen someone try to cheat in a fishing tournament, and it surely won't be the last. As sportsmen, we have a greater obligation to be trustworthy stewards of the land.
Whether you see a deer after shooting hours or catch a fish before the start of the tournament, don't try to cheat the system. Those rules are there for a reason!