With at least tens of thousand of dollars in question, state officials are investigating two men caught allegedly cheating at a fishing tournament.
Jake Runyon appeared in a viral video as Lake Erie Walleye Trail director Jason Fischer cut open the fish caught by Runyon and partner Chase Cominsky. Fischer discovered that the fishes were stuffed with what were described as lead balls and even other fish filets.
“A fileted fish,” Fischer said. “Look it. It’s a walleye filet.”
Serious Controversy in Pro fishing tournament as multiple-time winners caught stuffing lead weights and other fish filets in their fish to have the heaviest catch to win hundreds of thousands in prizes. pic.twitter.com/Sxqeo2XC0K
— Billy (@Billyhottakes) October 1, 2022
It was supposed to be Cominsky and Runyan’s crowning achievement. After winning several other competitions in this fishing tournament in the last several months, they were set to take the team-of-the-year award in the event on Friday in Cleveland, Ohio, according to The Washington Post.
Fischer told the outlet the pair only needed to weigh in at 16 pounds to win the award. He eyeballed their catch at about 20 pounds. Instead, it was just short of 34.
“It just kind of deflated me, because I just knew it wasn’t right,” said Fischer, who is also the owner of the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament.
You can see their weigh-in beginning at around the 15:55 mark in the video below. Footage shows Cominsky and Runyan going at precisely 33.91 pounds. They reportedly stood to win $28,750 in prizes.
They already won tens of thousands of dollars this year. Fischer reportedly said he was not sure about what will happen to that money.
Authorities with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, however, said they are investigating the cheating.
“ODNR wildlife officers responded to the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament on Friday, September 30, 2022 after being contacted by tournament organizers,” an ODNR spokesperson said in a statement obtained by WOIO in a Monday report. ”Officers collected evidence and are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.”
The situation is already on prosecutors’ radar.
“I take all crime seriously, including attempted felony theft at a fishing tournament,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said, according to The Associated Press. “These individuals will be held accountable.”
He said his staff will meet with ODNR agents on Tuesday.
Steve Hendricks, who won the team-of-the-year award with Brian Ulmer after Cominsky and Runyan were disqualified, told CNN he and others suspected the duo of cheating before. Cominsky and Runyan had beaten others by five to eight pounds before “every time.”
“Some shady stuff going on,” he said.
The sentiment on video was clearly heated.
“That’s fucking theft, motherfucker,” said a bystander after Fischer held up what was reportedly described as a lead ball.
Though visibly furious on discovering the weights, Fischer immediately worked on deescalating the situation.
“Everybody listen to me right now,” he said, and then addressed Runyon, who was wearing a dark-colored sweatshirt the the name “Runyon” on back. “Jake, I want you to leave. I don’t want anybody to touch these guys.”
Bystanders called for the duo to go to jail. They wanted cops called.
Fisher continued to cut open the fish, pulling out more balls.
“I mean, we all fucking knew it,” said a bystander.
“They were doing this the whole fucking time,” said another man.
Runyon apparently remained silent.
From Fischer, on the Lake Erie Walleye Trail’s Facebook page:
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.
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.
[Screenshot via @Billyhottakes]
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