A bass tournament competitor in the US has admitted he put a 1-pound lead weight down the gullet of a fish he caught at an event held last October on Lake Ray Hubbard, Texas.
But culprit Robby Rose insists he wasn’t cheating to win the prize, the charge he pleaded guilty to last week in court.
At stake was the tournament’s top prize, a Legend Alpha 211 bass boat with 225hp Mercury outboard, trolling motor, depth sounder and trailer – valued at $55,000.
Instead, Rose faces 15 days in jail, five years probation, a $3,000 fine and suspension of his fishing licence while on probation after pleading guilty to a felony charge of attempted theft.
The angler was found out after turning in his fish and tournament officials noticed that instead of swimming around in the tank like other caught fish, the bass sank to the bottom.
Rose says that the fish was big enough for second place before he weighted it and that adding the illegal pound didn’t make it a winner.
“Second place was mine to do with as I pleased,” Rose said.
Tournament officials, game wardens and Rockwall County prosecutors beg to differ. They say the added weight would have won him the boat if it had gone undetected.
Rose, 45, insists he was just trying to make a point.
“It was a right cross to their jaw,” Rose said. “I wanted to embarrass the sport.”
“I’ve been bullied by tournament officials for the last eight years,” he said. “I’ve passed more polygraphs than any other fisherman.” Rose said he passed four tests in 2009 alone.
“I have never done anything like this in my fishing past,” he said.
“I do apologize. I snapped. I lost my mind.”
Capt. Gary Collins of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, whose game wardens investigated the case, said the 9-pound fish survived the ordeal and was released back into Lake Ray Hubbard.