A cheating scandal has rocked the competitive fishing world, as two fishermen were alleged to have illegally stuffed their fish with weights and extra fillets.
Chase Cominsky of Hermitage, Pennsylvania and Jake Runyon of Cleveland, Ohio thought they had claimed victory at Lake Erie Walleye Trail’s (LEWT) final event of the 2022 season.
Until they didn’t.
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LEWT tournament director Jason Fischer, who moonlights as a police officer in the suburbs of Cleveland, brought the duo’s fraudulent act into the spotlight at the weigh-ins after the event.
Fischer sliced open one of the fish that Runyon and Cominsky had caught, only to find an object that sparked outrage: a lead weight.
Upon discovering the first lead weight, Fischer wound up his arm and yelled, “You’re out of here” in scenes reminiscent of an overzealous baseball umpire.
But it wasn’t just one lead weight. There were more.
The furious mob of fisherman stormed over and hurled expletives at Runyon, who stood there like a stunned mullet as he was forced to witness his reputation be destroyed in real time.
More lead weights were discovered with every fish that Fischer opened up, with some even stuffed with extra pieces of walleye fillet.
Safe to say, the rest of the competition in the LEWT did not take kindly to the alleged cheating.
One described it as “f***ing theft”, while another yelled at Runyon that he “should be in jail.”
A more measured competitor but with an equal desire for justice asked: “Don’t we need to file a police report?”
The rest of the competition were, let’s just say, a little more direct and not-so-measured in their abuse as Runyon and Cominsky were caught hook, line and sinker.
Fischer issued a statement on the LEWT’s official Facebook page, apologising for the heinous act of the duo.
“Disgusted guys and gals, I’m sorry for letting you down for so long and I’m glad I caught cheating taking place in YOUR LEWT at the same time,” Fischer wrote.
“I can’t think enough to post results, but congrats Tsczyko and French and TOY Hendricks and Ulmer. Same goes to the yak and open winners.
“I hope you know now that when I say ‘you built this LEWT and I will defend its integrity at all costs’, I mean it. You all deserve the best.”
As if the saga could become even more scandalous, Cominsky and Runyon’s rivals have long suspected the duo were up to something fishy.
They claimed victories across several LEWT events in 2021, including the season-ending championship.
But it reached boiling point when pair won the Lake Erie Fall Brawl fishing event in 2021 and stood to reel in $AUD156K in cash and prizes, according to the Toledo Blade, having topped the scales with their fish.
But the duo were disqualified from the event without any explanation from tournament organisers as one of them failed a lie-detector test.
Runyon employed lawyers to argue his case as he attempted to sue the Brawl for his winnings, but in light of recent events, he might as well kiss that goodbye.
Let’s just hope Runyon has managed to hire the same legal team in the aftermath of the scandal.