We are less than four days in October and the next biggest internet fraudulent scandal does not appear wives guys or chess matches — this is in the world of professionals fishing. This is how it all began: two fishermen who competed in a Lake Erie in a fishing competition on Friday were accused of cheating and disqualified after a tournament official found small lead weights stuffed into their catch. While this was major news for the fishing community, a surprising lull in the celebrity chaos and other pressing gossip sent the videos to TikTok Everywhere pages for you.

All the drama started at the Lake Erie Valley Trail Weightlifting Championships (FEB) A tournament where each group had to present their catches and weigh them. The group with the heaviest fish wins. Easy right? But viral footage captured at the competition shows the moment things went wrong. In the clip, the announcer can be seen talking to the two men about their recordings. Identified as Jacob Runyan and Chase Kominsky, the men are congratulated on their fish and asked about their technique. But after the fish was weighed, it was a few pounds heavier than other competitors’ offerings despite being​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​- forth through through along, way through the competition than other competitors’ offerings. In the clip, which has now gone viral, tournament director Jason Fisher can be seen cutting open the fish with a knife, revealing several metal balls, before shouting: “We’ve got weights in the fish!”

In the video, the proclamation provokes violent crowd activity. Spectators, who had calmed down a little earlier, immediately start shouting abuse at the accused, stepping on them when the screams become aggressive – and a dormant TikTok hit is born.

R. J. McAlanda, an avid fisherman who runs a popular fishing page on TikTok @officialfishboshtells Rolling Stone that tactics such as weighing fish or stuffing them are extremely common ways to cheat during fishing tournaments. Contestants catch their own fish and then push weights into the fish’s mouth to increase their weight and overcome their competitors. But actually catching fraudsters, especially in the act, is extremely rare, according to McAlandy.

“This is not the first time I have seen cheating in fishing,” says McAlanda Rolling Stone. “I have been a fisherman for a long time and I myself have been to tournaments where I suspected cheating. But this topic is very taboo. All the fishing communities come together and want to highlight these cheaters because many people waste their lives trying to catch such fish. So if someone just walked in and tried to steal their money, that’s pretty serious.”

Courtesy of Jason Fisher

McAlanda adds that part of the controversy is that the accused anglers have placed or won multiple tournaments in the past, which casts doubt on the authenticity of their wins. If the cheating is confirmed, he doubts the anglers involved will ever be allowed to compete in Ohio and possibly face bans from other states. None of the men answered Rolling Stonerequest for comment.

“The tricky part about all of this is that you can’t disprove past results because obviously the fish are gone,” Macalanda says. “Tournaments do have a polygraph, so they’re lie detector tested. Sometimes he gets caught and sometimes he doesn’t. But it’s really hard to tell if the past fish was stuffed or not. So this situation destroys the house of cards for them.”

After the video was released, the fishermen accused of fraud were suspended from the event, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is currently investigating, according to CNN. Fisher, who confronted the two men and shared several photos with them Rolling Stonesaid in a statement on Facebook that he was disgusted by the case.

“Disgusting guys and gals, I’m sorry it took so long to let you down, and I’m glad I noticed the deception going on at YOUR LEWT at the same time,” Fisher said. said. “I hope you know by now that when I say ‘you created this LEWT and I will protect its integrity at all costs’, I mean it. You all deserve the best.”

But the alleged fraud is no longer just a topic for fishermen – #fishtok has gone mainstream. During the three days of the competition, videos of confrontations and people’s reactions appeared viewed more more than 1 million times — including by people which have no idea what is happening

“Anyone else accidentally end up on a fishing contest TikTok even though they’ve never liked a single fishing video, or is it just me?” reading one video. Others, as soon as they learned about the viral footage, were desperate to have a fisheries expert explain everything.

McAlanda says that while the cheating scandal is extremely serious, he has been surprised by how the viral video and others on the subject continue to reach non-fishers. He sees people’s interest in the scandal and rules of competitive fishing as a hope that more people will see fishing as an exciting sport.

“It was crazy to see how others were interested in all of this,” he says. “The biggest misconception about fishing is that it’s a sit-and-wait sport, so the positive thing about it is that people are more interested in the fishing industry or just fishing in general. It’s definitely a lot higher octane than what other people on the street are used to.”

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