The fisherman who was declared the winner of a Cleveland fishing tournament after two of his opponents were allegedly caught cheating hopes they’re given the maximum punishment.
Chase Cominsky of Pennsylvania and Jake Runyan of Ohio were taking part in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship in Cleveland’s Gordon Park in Ohio on Friday when they were accused of making their catches seem heavier by stuffing them with weights.
Steve Hendricks, who was declared the winner after the scandal erupted, said ‘I just hope they get them for everything they can for what they’ve done.’
He added that for most anglers, ‘that’s what they love to do,’ that they aren’t in it for the money.
‘And they’re out there trying to do a great job and it’s just unfortunate that a select few can come in and ruin all that for you. So I hope [Cominsky and Runyan] get the max,’ he told CNN.
The fisherman who was declared the winner of a Cleveland fishing tournament after two of his opponents were caught cheating hopes they’re given the maximum punishment
Chase Cominsky (left) from Pennsylvania and Jake Runyan from Ohio (right) were taking part in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship in Cleveland’s Gordon Park in Ohio on Friday when they were caught red-handed making their catches seem heavier by stuffing them with weights
Steve Hendricks, who was declared the winner after the scandal, said ‘I just hope they get them for everything they can for what they’ve done’
Hendricks described how the pair cheated, saying ‘They picked up a fish that should have weighed about four pounds and they set it on the scale and it said eight. And then they put the rest of their five in and it came up to 35’
Hendricks described how he felt the pair cheated, saying ‘They picked up a fish that should have weighed about four pounds and they set it on the scale and it said eight. And then they put the rest of their five in and it came up to 35.’
Tournament director Jason Fischer then decided to gut the fish, at which point the duo’s cheating was exposed.
Inside each of the fish were several lead balls, deliberately designed to add pounds to the pair’s catch and thus secure the title and accompanying $5,000 prize money.
‘We got weights in fish!’ Fischer announced to the gathered crowd who quickly turned angry.
Questions are now being raised about other tournaments the pair have won in the past. They have already claimed several first-place prizes and earned a considerable sum of money in various LEWT events including the 2021 championship.
The duo scored the top catch in last year’s Lake Erie Fall Brawl and attempted to claim the $100,000 prize but were disqualified.
Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyan allegedly added the weights to the fish in order to put them on top of the leaderboard
After their fish had been weighed, the pair were told to stay on for the fish to be photographed
Suspicions were first aroused in the final moments of the tournament when the anglers’ catch had to be weighed in which their five heaviest fish of the day were to be placed on the scales.
There was outrage from onlookers who demanded answers, with some threatening to call the police.
The duo allegedly stuffed the objects down the throats of the fish in order to bulk up their weight and improve their standing in the tournament.
Alongside the lead weights were also slices of other fish fillets, pieces of which had been stuffed into the body of the catch, once again to increase their weight.
The dramatic discovery was filmed and posted to social media. Runyan is asked on video if has anything to say for himself but remains silent throughout.
Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyan were stripped of their winning title after a tournament official discovered lead weights inside the fish they caught
Jake Runyan, from Ohio, could do nothing but stand in silence as the cheating was exposed
Tournament director Jason Fischer then decided to gut the fish at which point the duo’s cheating was exposed
Fischer showed those gathered the lead weights which had been forced inside the fish
Other fishermen gathered at the event were furious as the pair were exposed as cheaters
The pair have now been called out as ‘cheaters’ on the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship official Facebook event page and will be banned from all future tournaments.
‘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.’
There was immediate anger from those gathered as the alleged cheating was exposed
In the world of competitive fishing, by adding the weights to the fish, Cominsky and Runyan’s total poundage increased and put them on top of the leaderboard
Runyan continued to stay silent as he was hounded by other furious fisherman
At the time, the director of the tournament did not explain why other than to say one of the men failed a polygraph test.
Runyan protested saying how the fish had been caught by following the rules and that they were innocent. He even secured legal counsel in an attempt to sue for their ‘winnings’ according to the Toledo Blade.
At another event, the Rossford Walleye Roundup in Ohio, several competitors shared their suspicions that the pair’s fish ‘looked old’ and may have been stashed away prior to the start of the event.
Following the event, the pair decided not to donate their catch to a local food bank as most of the other fishermen proceeded to do.
The organizers of these previous tournaments may now be weighing up the options of taking legal action against the pair for alleged fraud and deceptive practices.