the case, probably someone who was adversely affected by the violator’s actions. To my knowledge, however, no such case has been made.
Who’s to blame? Without knowing the facts in evidence it’s hard to say, but if you’re an angler starting rumors and sitting on facts, you owe it to yourself and to your peers and to your sport to take a stand. If you’re a tournament director or a member of a tour’s hierarchy who is overlooking transgressions or sweeping them under the rug because you don’t want to be perceived as a haven for cheaters, you are likely sending the opposite message.
Someone is going to have to stand up and make the case. They’ll need to have bulletproof facts and not care about any short-term public fallout. They’ll need to make an example of someone. They’ll need to be uncomfortable. That’s not what we as humans in general or anglers in particular do – we like to stay in our lane and focus on the little green (and brown) fish. Sometimes the easy route is not the right route. Whoever is the first to step up and get it done won’t stop the cheating, but they’ll impede it enough to serve as a cautionary tale. And they might gain some new fans and followers.
I hate that we’re still having this conversation. I’ve always thought that the greatest thing about our sport is that at the end of the day you slap your fish on the scale and they weigh what they weight. No judgment calls, no officiating errors.
What’s strange is that of the local and regional anglers I know of who’ve been caught cheating, almost all of them have been very good anglers. They would’ve cashed their checks, anyway.
I can’t profess to know what motivated them to take the leap to breaking the rules, but I can almost certainly say that no one would do it if they thought they’d be caught, punished and/or excommunicated. Being voted off the island is the worst fate you can get, and for the most part we’re never willing to go there.
But someday we will. •