COLUMN: Fishin’ and cheatin’ – caught lead handed!


I just read an article about a man who was disqualified from a fishing tournament for cheating. Y’all, I think Jesus is coming soon. Fishing is a sport that has long been known for its liars. Ever heard the term “fish story?” But when people start cheating in fishing tournaments, well that has to mean that this world has become so bad that only Jesus can fix it – and don’t forget, His disciples were fishermen.

Look, I don’t fish much – just don’t have the patience – but this story got my interest. So I looked around on the internet and to my surprise, I discovered that cheating does indeed go on during fishing contests. In fact, many of them require the winner to take a lie detector test before they award the prize money. I suppose it’s like anything else; when big bucks are involved, bad people are drawn to it – just like politics. In fact, maybe we should require our elected officials to take polygraphs on a regular basis. On the other hand, lie detectors probably wouldn’t work on politicians. Most of those clowns have lied so much that they actually believe they’re telling the truth.  

There are several ways to cheat at fishing. One of the most common scams is to add weight to your catch via lead fishing weights, or ball bearings. Another more complicated method is to have a hidden well in the boat that is loaded with fish they will add to the total catch the contestants turn in at the tournament. Either way is despicable. 

Look, I’m not naive. Cheating goes on in other sports. Anyone who has played in a golf tournament knows about “sandbaggers,” a term given to players who claim they are worse than they are to get extra shots, or to be flighted with inferior players. Golfers joke about it, but it’s cheating, nonetheless. However, in my mind, there is something especially bad about adding weight to a fish in order to win prize money. It’s sneaky, it’s preplanned and it just seems worse to me. 

I’m not the only one. A court in Ohio sentenced two men to 10 days in jail for cheating in a fishing tournament. They got busted when one of the contest officials thought one of their fish was too heavy for its length. So, they cut it open and discovered that it was stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets to make it heavier. These guys, who had pocketed over $100,000 in prize money at other fishing tournaments, had put 8 pounds of illegal weight in their catch. They were caught lead handed.

It makes me wonder – at that point did these guys go ahead and ‘fess up, or did they try to come up with a lame lie?

”Well, whatta you know! I had no idea fish ate that kind of thing. Talk about a bottom feeder.”

Once they went to court, the judge lowered the boom. In addition to jail time, he decreed that the men forfeit a very expensive fishing boat. They also lost their fishing licenses for three years, paid a fine and made a donation to a fishing charity. Sounds like Your Honor was the guy who finished in second place. About the only thing he didn’t do was give them 200 hours of community service at a Captain D’s. And I would’ve been fine with that.

And what are those guys gonna say when the other inmates ask what crime they committed to land them in the lock-up?

“Umm, well, I cheated in a fishing tournament.”

That’s not gonna impress anybody in the joint. It may even get you beat up. If it were me, I would look them straight in the eye and say, “I got busted for filling a fish full of lead.” That might sound enough like shooting someone that they may leave you alone. 

If not, I would just tell them that I’m a politician.

Joe Hobby is a barbecue-loving comedian from Alabama who wrote for Jay Leno for many years. Find more of Joe’s stories on his blog: Follow him on Facebook at Joe Hobby Comedian-Writer.