In less then a week the two infamous walleye tournament cheaters Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky will be arraigned on the charges brought against them post the cheating scandal. On October 26th the two will face felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals. This cheating scandal rocked the world of fishing and received more headlines than any legitimate win in recent history. They were indicted and will be arraigned by the authorities in Cleveland, Ohio. Officers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Hermitage Police Department and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission seized a boat, trailer and fishing gear belonging to Cominsky on Tuesday October 11th in Pennsylvania. The anglers had used the boat during last month’s tournament, the affidavits said. Runyan and Cominsky would have received $28,760 in prizes for winning the tournament.
Will this arraignment be the end? Obviously not as the ripples of this horrible scandal will be everlasting. For example many tournament organizations have already been talking about ways to minimize the potential of said incidents happening again. One such idea is to implement a measuring system based on length not weight, also to be verified by pictures of the length of the fish upon immediate catch. Many bigger organizations have had in place several checks and balances such as live camera action, referees, random draw co-anglers, and even lie detector tests. As an angler that has had multiple lie detector tests this year for having high enough finishes and passed all with ease; I believe any and every effort to promote honest and fair tournaments should be warranted and welcomed.
One common theme I noticed in the cheating scandal videos all over social media was that all the fish with weights inside them appeared to be dead. For a topic of discussion do you think every dead fish should be dissected and checked in front of the angler possessing it at weigh in? Prior to this incident dead fish never seemed to get much more attention than to be put in a cooler for later harvest of the meat. Dead fish are inevitably a part of this sport as livewells can experience airation issues, fish can have health issues from deep hooking or other circumstances, and many other reasons. All dead fish could easily be checked on sight to make sure the fish died from natural causes. As you saw in the cheating scandal videos the tournament director was able to cut open and check the fish very quickly.
As the sport of fishing calms down from the biggest scandal in its history one thing is certain. Tournaments will be getting several adjustments to the way they are conducted and the future of fishing will strive to have the highest possible standard of ethicality. I’m sure Oct. 26th will have its fair share of eyes watching.