The contestants, Jake Runyan and Chase Kominsky, were stripped of their victory and could potentially face criminal charges.

CLEVELAND – This fish story begins at Clevelandat the Lake Erie Tournament.

The zander was weighed and the champion was named, but something didn’t seem right.

It wasn’t just the catch that was ‘fishy’, and a quick stab at the walleye left the new champions with no hope of taking home the prizes when weights and fillets were found inside.

“It’s one thing when you’re sitting at the bar and a fish you say is so big is actually so big,” says avid angler Adam Vanhoe. “It’s one thing, but people come from all over the country for these competitions.”

VanHo should know: He’s not just a fisherman; he is a criminal defense attorney. While the competitors — Jake Runyan and Chase Kominsky — haven’t been charged with a crime, it’s something that’s being looked into, especially since some tournaments have prizes north of $100,000, including boats.

“We call this ‘theft by deception,'” Wang Ho explained, “which basically means you tried to steal something by making something that you pass on to others.”

While some are disillusioned with finances, others are suffering from the men they thought were friends on the lake.

“It makes me angry, it makes me sad,” said Kenny Morris, a northeast Ohio angler. “I knew Chase and Jake and I don’t talk to them anymore. They are blocked from me.

Despite the controversy, Morris is hopeful for future tournaments and stricter protocols.

“If you’re taking a fish that’s going to make you money, you’re going to have to cut the fish,” he told 3News.

The end of this story still leaves many questions, but the organizer who found these trucks wants the competitors to know one thing.

“It’s just important to me to run a fair tournament,” Jason Fisher, Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament director, said in a statement. “And Lake Erie anglers deserve it.”

Fishermen, I am still at a loss for words and I apologize for that. The results are published. Congratulations to Steve Tyshko and…

Published Walleye Run on Lake Erie on Saturday, October 1, 2022

Update: Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament Director Jason Fisher released a video statement on Facebook on Monday.

“On Friday, we witnessed one of the most despicable acts the fishing world has ever seen,” he said. “Such behavior will not be tolerated.”

Fisher said he has turned over all information about the incident to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Division, which will investigate and file any possible criminal charges.

“It hurts me to the core to see so much negative light cast on our sport,” Fisher added. He also apologized for using profanity in a viral video that showed the winners being caught with weights in their walleye.