UPDATED (Monday morning): As I have further considered the most recent caught cheating incident in our area, a couple of things keep coming up in my head. One, when there is massive amount of commotion at the gallows, it’s not easy to see if there is possibly another perpetrator hidden in the crowd, shaking his fist like everyone else.

Yet, secondly, we don’t have to become suspicious of every unusual catch, we just need to scrutinize them. When you look closely at the circumstances of a particular sack/fish you protect (where applicable) other competitors, former record-holders of all types, future aspiring anglers, the public and yes, you protect the fair and honest catch as well.

Therefore, you can doubt Mike Hart successes of the last several years–and yes, I’m afraid, we weren’t paying that close of attention. But a blanket claim of career cheating seems just too easy of an explanation to me…and worse, somehow using that notion as a “consolation prize” could blur our vision in the future.

ORIGINAL POST: Surprise seems to be the emotion of the day, followed by anger and, of course, a rash of feelings that spew all over the windshield from the events at Lake Mead that stained the 2010 U.S. Open.

But if you were to pattern (read profile) the perpetrator, do you see what I see? The biggest ethical failure didn’t come from the 84th place guy trying to climb up to 50th. That guy takes his lumps, learns and comes away feeling like he can do this. Instead, the perpetrator was a guy accustomed to lots of notoriety and the accolades we blindly poured on him.

But this type just can’t wait for his next outstanding catch or performance to come in due time by his own hard work–so he speeds up the process by illicit means. Yet he’s so caught up in looking good, he deceives himself into thinking everyone just expects he’ll pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Now, I like to think I’ve witnessed some truly great performances over the years. I was present for Jim Phelps’ previous state record limit on San Vicente–on live bait–but still in front of the whole world.

When I was desperate for a big bass for a big bass photo on a specific day: Matt Newman, Bill Siemantel, Mike Folkestad, Dean Rojas and even the late “Lunker Bill” Murphy (the greatest bass angler ever to come out of San Diego) have come through with trophy fish on demand. There were no doubts about their catches–for I was barely 10 feet away from them at the time, Nikon in hand.

But each of these guys have or were able to withstand the hot seat when I occasionally poked them for their less than stellar performances from time to time. That’s because they’re humble enough to know the difference between very good and the very best is not magic tournament sacks or unexpected trophies–it’s day after day consistency of refined techniques and smart decision-making.

So who’s the bad guy gonna be?  I hope it comes as no surprise.


5 Responses to “Maybe the next one won’t be a surprise…”

Or they will say ” surprise , surprise, surprise” like Gomer Pyle

I think the rules should state that if you are caught cheating, and it is in no doubt as to whom and how, the guilty party (parties) should have to “run the gauntlet” before they are allowed to leave (with their lives).

by Chris Nietzel

I know the cheating thing has been running for awhile, but could you shed some details on Phelps’ record at San V? I love reading about the old records and stuff, couldn’t find anything on the web.

by George Kramer

Dang it, Chris, now I’m going to have to look it up. Unofficially, it was 43-14 or so at the time, with a 13 at the fat end, but only a 4 1/2 at the other. Jim was fishing the buoy line at the dam, casting waterdogs (no longer allowed, of course) at an underwater point on the opposite shore. The interesting part, a couple of days before the catch, DFG biologists tracked one of their big sonar tagged largemouths to that location. Then the day before, another of those fish arrived. The bass were stacked up for Phelps.

by Chris Nietzel

Nice, thanks George- Can’t wait to see the chimney in 100′ of water on the graph in a few years…