Two men in Utah were convicted on felony charges tied to cheating in a bass fishing tournament. Essentially, they caught some big ol’ fish and transported them hundreds of miles away to another lake and tried to pass the fish off as being caught in that lake so they could win a tournament and walk away with $$$$$.
If it sounds like the perfect crime, it wasn’t. They got caught and have been convicted on ‘felony bribery or threat to influence a contest’ as well as misdemeanor charges of unlawful release of wildlife and unlawful captivity of protected wildlife.
I first wrote about this six months ago when the story broke and at that time I said it all reminded me of a relatively famous Carl Hiassen novel. Carl’s an author from Florida and longtime columnist for the Miami Herald, and it’s been so long that I don’t remember all the details of the book but I remember enough that it immediately came to mind when I saw this story. Here’s the description that book:
One early August morning in Harney County, Florida, the body of Robert Clinch is found floating in a lake shortly after taking his boat out to go bass fishing. Private investigator R.J. Decker is hired by sugar cane tycoon Dennis Gault, another bass fisherman, to prove that celebrity fisherman Richard “Dickie” Lockhart, his main rival on the fishing tournament circuit, is a cheat. Decker is a former newspaper photographer who was fired and briefly sent to prison after assaulting a teenager who tried to steal his camera equipment.
In that book, a fisherman would capture an enormous bass and plant it in a trap somewhere in the lake where they could then go and retrieve the fish during a tournament and bring it into the weigh station as a prized fish and win the tournament. There are A LOT of other things that happened in the book but that’s really what I remember the most.
Now, here’s what Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, plead guilty to:
Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, both from Washington City, caught bass from Quail Creek Reservoir near St. George, Utah, and transported them to use at a tournament at Lake Powell, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The tournament prize was $2,500 for the team with the heaviest five fish caught during the two-day event. The suspects were in second place after the first day, and led for overall biggest fish. But tournament officials disqualified them because of the suspicious nature of the fish.
“Some of the largemouth bass they’d turned in had little heads and fatter bodies, indicating a different diet than the fish at Lake Powell, which were more lean,” DWR Lt. Paul Washburn said. “The fish also had red fins, which indicated they had undergone some stress.” (via FTW)
During the investigation, it was discovered that these two had finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in EIGHT bass fishing tournaments earlier that year and had already raised suspicion regarding their finishes in those tournaments. Conservation officers said they received ‘a report of illegal activity in October 2018 through a tip line’ which led to this investigation and eventual arrest and conviction of the two men.
After being convicted, they were each sentenced with two years of probation, 48 hours of community service, fines of $2,500. All charges will eventually be dismissed from their records after completion of the probation, community service, and the fines are paid.
Not for nothing, Utah’s Lake Powell is f’n gorgeous. Just look at this.
Growing up in Florida and fishing for Largemouth Bass in ponds, swampy lakes, and on golf courses that looks like the last place on the planet I’d think is stocked with trophy bass but that’s one of the cool aspects of this species. They’re everywhere. Coast to coast. And they always fight like hell.
I’m curious what will happen two years from now after they’ve completed their probation. If they’ll rejoin the bass fishing circuit and how that’ll look. I didn’t expect to be following this story for 6 months but I guess I might as well follow it for another two years at this point, right?
You can read the original article from six months ago right here.