Professional athletes do it with chemicals. Texas angler Robby Rose did it with a fish.
Did what? They cheated, though only Rose was trying to cheat by stuffing a 1-pound lead weight down the gullet of a fish that he had caught last October in a bass fishing tournament.
Rose, a Texas business owner and bass tournament competitor, was caught stuffing his catch in a tourney at Lake Ray Hubbard in Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported the dastardly deed, mentioning that the prize for biggest fish was a $55,000 bass boat.
This was more than just a fish story shared with buddies at the local tavern. Hey, with enough time and beer all fish grow in size, and it’s generally accepted that a trophy trout or bass will gain a couple of pounds after the weekend’s glow wears off.
But this turned out to be a felony. Rose insists he was not really cheating to win that nifty boat and he sorta apologized for it and admitted he could have handled the whole thing better. The judge handed him a $3,000 fine and 15 days in jail. He also lost his fishing license for the five years he’s on probation.
Rose was not exactly repentant. Even with the extra weight, his fish was not enough for the top prize, but if he had left it alone he had second place locked.
"Second place was mine to do with as I pleased," the newspaper quoted him.
"Cheating is cheating," the lead prosecutor said. "And neither the fishing community nor this office will tolerate it."
Rose continued his defiance by asserting he had been bullied by tournament officials in the past and had to pass numerous polygraph tests and the rumors about how he won other contests in the past were based on jealousy.
Back in another century when I did a little part-time guiding, I helped with a trout fishing contest. We had all the safeguards, we thought. Each participant would get a disposable camera to photograph the fish stretched next to a ruler, to show how big it was. Of course, the biggest fish would win a considerable amount of cash, and folks will go to all sorts of trouble to win cash.
A couple of good ‘ol boys tried to pull one over on the fishing guides and the good ‘ol boys got caught. The fish, a monster rainbow, had been a faded dead for several days. You could actually tell from the photo. Tempers flared. Threats were issued. But the good ‘ol boys did not go home with the prize.
I said from the beginning that a fly-fishing tournament offering money for the biggest trout was a dismal idea. It smelled of trouble like a fish dead too long. We never held another.
Smallmouth bass fishers have their summer-long contests where each angler chips in an entry fee. At the end of the summer, the guy who brought in the biggest "live" smallie would walk off with the bucks.
Just about everybody cheated in one way or another, though I know of nobody who stuffed a fish with lead weight. Too obvious.
The smallmouth fishermen were more imaginative.
A big fish was caught and kept in a private pond all summer. At the end of the summer, the pond was drained, the fish scooped up and the top prize was claimed.
Funny, I know.
But it was still cheating.