Tuesday, June 25th, 2024

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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Ralph Loos: Another angler casts himself into the river of scandal, this time in Illinois bass tournament

Had David Moore, of St. John's, Ind., been allowed to proceed during the Cal Sag Bass Anglers event in Illinois, he would have won the tournament by more than 4 pounds. Instead he was charged with two Class A misdemeanors, four Class B misdemeanors, and one petty offense. (Stock photo)

Almost exactly a year after jail time was ordered for two fishermen caught stuffing weights into Ohio walleyes, cheating jumped in the water and quickly swam right over to a competitive fishing event here in Illinois.

Details were a bit fuzzy for the first few days, but the organization that hosted the tournament quickly made things clear. What Cal Sag Bass Anglers did was admirable. It got straight to the point with a message on its Facebook page May 15.

“On May 11, Cal Sag Bass Angler Dave Moore, of St. John’s, Ind., was stopped by Illinois Conservation Police during a Cal Sag Bass Anglers tournament as he arrived to weigh his fish,” the post read. “His catch was confiscated. Dave is forever banned from participating in any Cal Sag or Big Lake Bass Angler events or any affiliated events.”

On May 22, Illinois DNR released a statement confirming CPOs had indeed issued a citation to Moore for attempting to commit theft, possession over the daily limit of three smallmouth bass, failure to immediately release smallmouth bass unharmed, taking and possessing smallmouth bass resulting in wanton waste, throwing fishing wire on the bank waters, and importing Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia-susceptible species into Illinois without a permit.

The story played out just as had been reported: a witness had called DNR when he noticed a man acting suspicious on the Calumet River the night before the tournament.

“On May 10, conservation police received information that Moore was hiding fish on a stringer on the Calumet,” DNR noted. “The following morning, conservation police watched the location and observed Moore retrieve four smallmouth bass from the stringer and place them in the live well of his boat before throwing the string on the shore and driving away.”


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CPOs learned from the Cal Sag Bass Anglers “Weigh Master” that Moore was registered for the tournament. So on tournament day, CPOs waited for Moore to return to the weigh-in location.

“The tournament limit was five bass with a minimum length of 12 inches,” DNR explained. “The total weight of the fish in Moore’s possession was 19.5 pounds. However, upon further investigation, conservation police determined Moore had caught four smallmouth bass on May 10 in Lake Michigan near Hammond, Indiana, and imported the fish into Illinois without a VHS permit.”

Had Moore been allowed to proceed, he would have won the tournament by more than 4 pounds. Instead he was charged with two Class A misdemeanors, four Class B misdemeanors, and one petty offense. A court date has been set in Cook County.

In May of 2023, two anglers who pleaded guilty of cheating in a Lake Erie fishing tournament were sentenced to 10 days in jail and 1 1⁄2 years of probation. Jacob Runyan, of Ashtabula, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, of Hermitage, Pa., had entered guilty pleas to felony charges of cheating after using weights to make their catches appear heavier at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament in September 2023.

In wake of the latest cheating scandal – the one that took place right here in our state – somebody asked me what questions I would ask a growing number of fishermen who choose to burn loads of energy artificially making the fish they catch heavier.

Only one question comes to mind, really. Why not waste energy by simply trying to catch a bigger fish?

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