With the Fall King of the Beach right around the corner one of the main concerns I hear about is cheating. As a tournament director I’ve heard a lot of chatter about cheating and thought to myself, what constitutes cheating? Is it black and white? Is there a grey area? And the ultimate challenge is how to stop it?
Everyone thinks of cheating as black and white and I think some fisherman actually base their tournament decisions in the grey area. As tournament directors we need to have every angle covered in black and white or we open up the door to making a decision on the fly that may later require recanting.
Here are some of the top methods of cheating we have “heard” about and how they rank as black/white or grey:
BLACK/WHITE (blatant cheats):
- Catching the fish earlier and saving it for the weigh in
- Stuffing foreign objects in the fish to make it heavier
- Having someone else catch a kingfish and give it to you to weigh
- Arriving Late and sneaking in the weigh in line
GREY (debatable issues):
- Boundaries …. Depending on the event this is probably the most common “cheat” we encounter. I call this one skirting the grey. Some anglers debate this based on their interpretation of the boundaries. How close to the edge are you and did you cross the magic line.
- Ladies and Kids fishing ….. We think of this one as black/white, but for some reason many teams find this one to be grey. Yes, the lady or child needs to be on the boat for one. The event determines if the lady or child actually needs to catch the fish. Some teams think all they need to do is simply add them to the registration form.
- Switching Boats during the event … again, this one unless the tournament stipulates otherwise is a NO. Some teams think that if you break down or have someone sick you can switch boats or team mates.
As for the King of the Beach, we err on the side of caution going above and beyond what most tournaments do to keep people from cheating. We have installed several measures including: Lie Detector Tests for the top money places and a for one random winner; We have the right to look at your GPS and check your tournament track; We tag your fish to you when you check in to keep anyone switching fish in line; We have trained people checking the fish before it goes to the weigh station for foreign objects and freshness of fish and we have random observers out that report back to the tournament directors if they see anything on the water during the event. We are always trying to make sure everyone plays by the rules to keep our event fun for everyone.
Did you know that cheating is a crime?
I think that most anglers know it is morally wrong to cheat, but are not aware it is also a criminal offense. The amount of the prize winnings determines how the crime is classified. The state of Texas has been quietly cracking down on tournament fraud for quite some time, last year they set precedent and charged 7 anglers with felony charges for cheating during a tournament. Texas has now made it a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, to cheat at tournaments with prizes worth more than $10,000. Expect to see other state follow suit.
So next time you or teammates suggest something on the lines of “cheating” think twice. Lets all keep the honor of sportsmanship and play fair. It makes your win a true WIN!