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Cheating in fishing compromises the sport

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Bass Pro fisherman Mike Hart was caught cheating in a fishing tournament. It was discovered he had stuffed lead sinkers down the throat of the bass before weighing them. He has earned over $200,000 dollars during his career in tournament angling. He has now admitted he has done this in several tournaments. He accomplished stuffing these weights in his fish several times while having a co-angler fishing with him during his tournaments.

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Wow, for sneaky! This whole issue raises many questions and concerns, and is appalling to say the least. I am glad to see he has been given a lifetime ban from tournament competition. I think criminal charges would also be appropriate. He was stealing. This gives a big black eye to tournament angling of all types. It is not the first, nor will it be the last time cheaters will be involved in competition.

Many others have been caught in several other tournament formats, from walleye angling to stripper fishing, bass angling and even marlin fishing events. Cheating happens in almost every walk of life. It seems when money, power or prestige are involved, there is always someone willing to compromise themselves.

We have had incidents even locally and regionally with anglers cheating to win or "cash a check." It is disappointing knowing that some are still out there that have also cheated and "gotten away with it."

I would like to believe that at some point they really don't get away with cheating. It is hard to believe you could cheat and feel good about yourself or your success. I would like to think that at some point they will pick up the tab for the inappropriate behavior.

Mike Hart just happens to be the latest and highest profile of them at this time. I hope this can serve as a warning and curb this behavior. I don't want to see these few bad eggs take away from the sport of angling and tournament competition. I hope Mike Hart's humiliation serves as a warning to the small group of tournament fisherman that has cheated, not to compromise themselves or the sport. Maybe it will make a few stop and think before making some poor decisions in the heat of competition.

Personally, I think your dignity is worth more than any amount of money you could win. I believe 99 percent of competitive anglers have great character, and it only takes a few to create mistrust. People that will cheat always seem to find a way around all the rules and protections put in place to make the competitions fair. Remember fishing, and even competitive fishing, needs to be about fun, fellowship, the outdoors, and enjoying the sport.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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