Sunday, June 16th, 2024

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Sunday, June 16th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Sucker fishing event in Michigan disqualifies contending fish during weigh-in

Lead sinkers were found stuffed into the meat of a contending fish’s head, directly behind the gills, during Michigan's Omer Suckerfest 10-day event. (Stock photo courtesy of Jack Ammerman)

Omer, Mich. — An angler at the Omer Suckerfest was caught cheating by stuffing his fish with lead weights, according to event organizers.

Every spring, thousands of suckers swim inland from Lake Huron up Michigan rivers to spawn. Taking advantage of this migration, the Omer Suckerfest hosts anglers from all over Michigan in a 10-day event to catch the heaviest sucker.

Businesses donate thousands of dollars and anglers line the banks of the Rifle River in hopes of being one of the lucky top five prize winners.

Each angler registered in the tournament can enter three fish. The prize for the heaviest fish this year was $1,000. The second-place award was $600. Although this prize money isn’t in the multi-thousand dollar amounts that professional walleye tournaments offer, organizers say it was enough to bring out someone who tried to bend the rules.

Another participant was weighing in his freshly caught fish, and he noticed that the fish entered just before him weighed more than it looked like it should. He noted his concern to weighmaster and tournament organizer, Deric Rogers.

Agreeing with the other participant, Rogers re-weighed the 4.89-pound white sucker and decided to dissect the fish to investigate. Finding nothing in the belly of the white sucker, Rogers turned his attention to the head. Lead sinkers were stuffed into the meat of the fish’s head, directly behind the gills.

According to organizers, when called to the weigh station, the person who submitted the weighted fish admitted to stuffing the sinkers into the fish. According to the DNR, no fishing laws were broken so it has no authority to investigate. Larceny by conversion (taking money by false pretense,) is a civil issue.

Rogers banned the man from his tournaments but declined to press forward with law enforcement, noting that “I won’t put up with cheating.

“The fact that we caught it and called him out on it will be shame enough. My focus is on the hundreds of families that come out to enjoy the tournament and the memories that the kids take with them forever.”

When contacted for comment, Rogers admitted to being outraged that someone would try to cheat, but added “My rules are clear. We caught him. He’s out!”

The man who pointed out the suspect fish to the weighmaster wrote a post on the Michigan Sportsman online forum about the incident. He eventually won the 4th and 5th place prizes.

The state of Michigan regulates bass, walleye, and muskie fishing tournaments, but not sucker tournaments.

There was a tie for first place this year, with one of the winners being a 12-year-old girl.

The difference between her fish’s weight and the disqualified man’s fish was two, one-hundredths of an ounce.

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