Last Saturday, we ran a story about two walleye fishermen who were fishing a walleye tournament at Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio.
The two fishermen, Chase Cominksy and Jake Runyan, were caught stuffing their walleye with eight pounds of sinkers by tournament officials, cheating the rest of the field.
As you can imagine, the responses from the fellow fishermen in the tournament were pretty brutal, as every single one of them were ready to drop the gloves and start swinging on the lone Runyan who stuck around to take the heat from the rest of the crowd, looking like a sad puppy with his tail tucked between his legs.
They were escorted off the premises by police, and the two could be in serious trouble for their actions.
With that being said, more of the story is starting to come out about the cheap move by Cominsky and Runyan.
According to Yahoo Sports,the duo needed to beat 16.8 lbs. to win Team of the year honors and the sweet $30,000 in prize money.
However, they blew 16.8 lbs. out of the water, weighing in at 33.91 lbs.
Everybody in the crowd knew something was up, as the typical weight of five walleye should be somewhere around 15 to 20lbs.
After the duo were met with no applause, Jason Fischer, who weighed the two’s fish, decided to take a closer look as they posed with their (at the time) prized walleye.
He knelt beside one of the fish, pulled out his knife, and cut it open, only to find the weights inside of them.
“We’ve got weights in fish!”
Cheating is nothing new to the sport of fishing, so much so that winners must take a required polygraph test in order to make sure they aren’t lying. Failing, or refusal to take one, will result in disqualification.
Accusations of cheating can cost the accuser up to $500 in LEWT tournaments, and they only get the money back if they prove to be right. The tournament’s site also notes that “no polygraph will be given on hearsay or gossip.”
But apparently, Cominksy and Runyan had been the focal point on a lot of hearsay and gossip in recent months, after they went on a wild winning streak that left a bunch of people scratching their heads.
Things really started to get fishy, when they refused to donate their winning fish to local food banks, a normal practice for those who compete in fishing tournaments.
Matt Markey, the columnist for the Toledo Blade that’s been following this story, estimated that Runyan and Cominksy had racked up around $400,000 in winnings and endorsements going into last weekend, after winning two of the biggest events of the 2021 fall season, the Fall Brawl and Walleye Slam.
The duo won a brand new Warrior fishing boat worth $151,670 after winning the Walleye Slam, and they sold the boat and split the money.
However, they were disqualified after winning the Fall Brawl for failing a polygraph test, and they lost out on the $125,000 Ranger boat prize.
Runyan denied the failed polygraph, and attempted to win back the money and his reputation.
And ironically enough, he shared this statement with Cleveland.com last December:
“It wasn’t just the loss of a very expensive boat we had rightfully won, it was having our names drug through the mud, and smeared on social media and among walleye fishermen around the area.”
Fischer has purchased the Fall Brawl since then, and the organizers of the Walleye Slam are ready to put the possibility of Cominsky and Runyan’s possible cheating in their tournament behind them.
“The tournaments just want this all to go away. The fall tournaments start on October 15, and they’ll have about $800,000 in prizes and cash. It’s a big frickin’ mess.”
Fischer admitted that he’d heard rumors of the cheating, but had never had a problem with them in his tournaments.
There was even a cameraman filming their day at the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament in September for a season-long retrospective, and there was no cheating involved between the two.
“I congratulated them, I told them, ‘You guys cleared your name. I thought they were in the clear.”
He was even feeling certain that the two were doing things the right way at the most recent tournament, and they just needed to finish in the top 11 to win Team of the Year honors.
However, when he took a look at the two’s five walleye, he knew they should only be in the three to four lb. range, and when he weighed their biggest fish, he knew something was wrong when it weighed at 7.9 lbs.
And after the final weight was over 33 lbs., that’s when Fischer made the move to check the insides of the fish, and all hell broke loose.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s sickening. It’s a real stain on the sport.
It’s a shame that the biggest walleye story ever is about cheating, not about the amazing fishing on Lake Erie.”
An investigation into the scandal is underway, and Fischer noted that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is in possession of all the tournament evidence, and local prosecutors are investigating as well.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said:
“My staff will be meeting with officers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Tuesday) regarding this matter. I take all crime seriously, including attempted felony theft at a fishing tournament. These individuals will be held accountable.
“My best hope is that they’ll be criminally charged with felony fraud, and to avoid jail time they’ll fess up to past cheating. Hopefully some of that money is still around to try to make things right.”
Since the incident, an Instagram account with over 46,000 followers that’s believed to belong to Runyan has gone private, and the team’s Facebook page has been deleted.