A duo who had been declared winners of a series of fishing tournaments became embroiled in a cheating scandal after a tournament official discovered weights in their fish.
Videos from the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship event show teammates Chase Cominsky, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and Jake Runyon, of Cleveland, posing for a photo with fish just minutes before an officer spots something in the animals. The two were season bests for “Team of the Year,” according to The Herald, a western Pennsylvania newspaper.
The officer who cuts the fish yells, “We have weights in fish,” a revelation that is met with angry shouts from fellow competitors.
You can see the initial celebration of the winners and the aftermath of the official’s comments below.
Another video circulating online shows a man asking to “call the police” while the officer tells Runyon to “go”.
“How many damn tournaments have you done that in?” a man yells.
The officer later cuts open more fish and scoops out weights and what appear to be fish fillets from inside the fish.
“You got something to say, Jake?” a man asks while Runyon looks at the fish in silence.
“Take photos, I need photos,” the officer tells viewers.
Serious controversy in the pro fishing tournament as multiple winners stuffed lead weights and other fish fillets into their fish to have the heaviest catch and win hundreds of thousands of prizes. pic.twitter.com/Sxqeo2XC0K
– Billy (@Billyhottakes) October 1, 2022
Lake Erie Walleye Trail director Jason Fischer wrote on Facebook that he was disgusted and glad he discovered the scam at the event.
“I hope you now know that I mean it when I say, ‘You built this LEWT and I will defend its integrity at all costs.’ You all deserve the best,” Fischer wrote.
Fischer, in another post, hailed Steve Tsczyko and Chris French for their event win and celebrated Steve Hendricks and Brian Ulmer for their “Team of the Year” win, The Herald noted.
“All LEWT anglers deserve better, I will take my time and figure out how to solidify the integrity of our sport here on Erie,” Fischer wrote.
Cominsky and Runyon have already been involved in tournament controversy.
The pair were disqualified from an event they won last year because one of them failed a lie detector test, according to The Toledo Blade.
The mandatory tests are “allegedly to ensure all rules have been followed,” according to the publication, and the pair passed a lie detector test after a later tournament. The 2021 event reportedly offered over $500,000 in cash and prizes.