Hook, Line, And Sucker: Tournament Anglers Caught Cheating

Cheating culture is stinking up competitive fishing

(Image via Flickr)

Stolen fish. Lead weights. Secret bass delivery networks.

The competitive fishing world has had its share of creative cheaters, and now a new scandal is consuming the circuit. After a dispute over the winning marlin in last month’s White Marlin Open in Maryland, 13 competitors are stuck in limbo, as the tournament still has not awarded its $2.8 million prize. Officials say the original victor, Philip Easley, caught his 76.5-pound winning fish before the tournament started. Easley maintains his innocence.

Though anglers are outraged, competitive fishing has a long history of cheating. The idea for the modern big-money derby—in which competitors buy into an event, fish in an area for a specific period of time, and award the pot to the biggest haul—came from an Alabama insurance salesman specifically aiming to clean up the sport. Ray Scott charged a $100 fee for the first All-American Invitational Bass Tournament in 1967, hoping it would only attract serious fishermen and leave frauds at home. “Cheating was almost synonymous with fishing [at the time],” Scott told Grantland in 2014.

To deter cheating today, tournaments administer post-catch polygraph tests to competitors. While the White Marlin Open’s pot is the largest disputed sum in the sport’s history, officials still frequently catch people submitting illegal fish. These are some of their stories.

Bogus Bass

Black Bass (cc)

In the early 1980s, Florida man Elro McNeil and three accomplices worked with at least six different anglers to scam fishing tournaments in Texas and Louisiana. McNeil would buy black bass in South Florida, deliver them in an aerated tank-rigged truck, and split the prize money with competitors. The group made more than $200,000 by 1984, when McNeil pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and ended up spending five years in prison.

Weight A Minute

John Hoyle had won a Lake Wylie tournament the previous year (image via FLW Fishing)

North Carolina’s John Hoyle finished third in the Walmart Bass Fishing League tournament on Lake Wylie, S.C., in 2012, but was disqualified after officials found an 11-ounce lead weight in one of his fish’s stomachs.

Crap Carp

Asian Carp (cc)

In 2013, Kentucky hosted a tournament for commercial fishermen to attach the invasive Asian Carp disrupting the state’s lakes, offering $20,000 in prize money. Officials disqualified the winner, 63-year-old Ronny Hopkins, after realizing one of Hopkins’ biggest fish was stolen from the local aquarium where he used to work.

Tall Tail

Another bass (cc)

At last year’s Sealy Big Bass Splash in Lake Fork, Texas, officials determined the winning fisherman doctored the winning fish by trimming its tail to fit under the tournament’s height limit. The angler was charged with a third-degree felony.

Father’s Day Fraud

Two honest walleyes (cc)

Last summer in Vermont, 44-year-old Craig Provost collected over $13,000—including $3,000 from a “super bonus pool”—for the 10.26-pound walleye he submitted in the Lake Champlain International Father’s Day Fishing Derby. As it turns out, one of Provost’s boatmates, who didn’t enter the bonus pool, actually caught the fish. Provost’s ex-girlfriend turned them in. In July, Provost pled not guilty to felony fraud.

via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.


He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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