Two Men Face Five Years In Prison For "Catching" Pre-Caught Fish In A Bass Tournament

March 25, 2020
Freshwater, Large Mouth, Bass, Fish, FIshing, Caught

(Photo by Getty Images)

Two men in Utah recently participating in a fishing tournament where the heaviest five fish would net a top prize of $2,500.

After the first day, the men were in second place, but officials were rather suspicious of the men's haul.  They looked completely different than the majority of other bass caught at Lake Powell during the tournament.  

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Lt. Paul Washburn said, "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.  The fish also had red fins, which indicated they had undergone some stress."

Here's one of the normal bass caught during the tournament.

And here's one of the suspect's bass.

DWR conservation officers were alerted to the suspicion, and had the fish tested at a University of Utah lab, who determined the fish had come from Quail Creek Reservoir, about seven hours away.  Lt. Washburn added, "Illegally moving and introducing fish into different waterbodies can cause a lot of damage to that fishery.  In this case, there were already largemouth bass at Lake Powell, but you can still run the risk of introducing disease and causing other issues whenever you move fish illegally."

The two men were arrested and charged with bribery or threat to influence a contest, a third-degree felony; unlawful release of wildlife, a class A misdemeanor; and unlawful captivity of protected wildlife, a class B misdemeanor. It is illegal to transport live fish to other areas of the state without proper certifications.

The pair face five years in prison, each.

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