Prosecutor to get report from ODNR on alleged tourney cheating by Hermitage, Cleveland fishermen
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it has turned over evidence to a prosecutor after investigating allegations that two anglers from Hermitage and Cleveland placed lead weights in fish submitted at an annual Lake Erie fishing tournament late last week.
Appearing on the Bigwater Fishing podcast on Sunday, Lake Erie Walleye Trail Director Jason Fischer said that said Cleveland Metroparks Police and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have asked him about allegations of cheating by tournament participants Chase Cominsky of Hermitage and Jake Runyon of Cleveland.
A Metroparks spokesperson told 21 News that ODNR is conducting the investigation and not the Metroparks Police.
An ODNR spokesman tells 21 News that one of its wildlife officers collected evidence and are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.
Fischer said he made the discovery while he was weighing in the pair’s catch late last week at the Lake Erie Fall Brawl held at Gordon Park in Cleveland.
According to Fischer, alarms went off when what appeared to be a 4-pound Walleye weighed in at eight pounds on the scale.
“Walleyes are not eating rocks,” said Fischer. “There’s zero chance that those fish weighed that.”
Fischer cut open the fish and found lead weights inside
The weigh-in that took place in front of other fishermen brought an angry reaction from the crowd to the extent that Fischer said he felt compelled to make sure that Cominsky and Runyon were escorted from the park safely.
Fischer posted an apology on the tournament’s Facebook page:
All LEWT anglers deserve better, I will take time and figure out how I can solidify the integrity of our sport here on Erie. I appreciate all the support the last 24 hours and for the last 4 years. I truly love what WE have built and I will be back next season with some great new ideas.
Participants paid $35 entry fees to join what is billed as Lake Erie’s largest walleye fishing tournament that offers some sizeable prizes.
In addition to a total of $25,000 in weekly prizes over the four weekend-long tournaments, first-place anglers could win a $125,000 boat.
The second place prize is a $110,000 boat. Third through fifth place prizes range from $65,000 to $45,000.