FOR THE RECORD–On the eve of the 6-hour, summer bass tournament regulations in California, I offer this updated reprise of my column that first appeared on Of course, angling larceny is where you find it.

Maybe I’d seen his rig around a few times before, I’m not sure. Could have been up around the Delta or Clear Lake, or maybe over at Castaic or was it Diamond Valley? But there he was: the Devil, himself, down at the ramp holding court and seeing who’d listen.

He’s got that way, you know. That certain way about him. Of course, there are no horns nor cloven hoof or pitchfork. Nobody would give him any time if he was that obvious. And he ain’t red either—well, maybe a little wind-burned, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Anyway, he’s talkin’ and he’s watchin’. Of course, he’s got all the best gear–the new baits, the fluoro, the color sonar. But he lays the stuff out on the deck a little more carelessly than you or I might—especially those $300 reels and $80 swimbaits.

Yeah, it looks careless, but is it really? Maybe it’s just bait (in a manner of speaking.)

There’s always a bit of a crowd around him at first. Some are curious, maybe a few recognize him from fishing elsewhere. And human nature being what it is, of course, that initial gathering draws the attention of still others. As guys finish wiping down, or locking their rod lockers, they stroll over to the group, exchange a few pleasantries—maybe even a few lies.

It’s on the eve of the summer tournament season, you know, and that’s the hot topic. The Devil seems to be pretty informed about the schedules, about the biggest payouts, and funny, he seems to know the rules of every organization by heart. He also seems familiar everyone who fishes them. Give him your name and he can tell you the region you fish and how you finished last year.

But small talk and braggadocio have a way of dissipating, so eventually the crowd breaks up. The guys head back to their boats; make a last check of the tie downs and straps and climb in for the drive home.

But not everyone.

One guy stays, fingering a gleaming, handcrafted swimbait, knowing full well, there’s no margin in his budget for such a perfect tool. Besides, he’ll need every penny for his half of the entry fee at the next event and he’s still not sure how he’ll get into the options. The fisherman pauses and lets his mind wander as he looks out over the water. He muses on how great it must feel to hold up that winning plaque and squeeze a check for a couple of grand.

And the Devil takes it all in. He pauses too, then boldly asks, “Would you ever cheat out there to win a tournament?”

The fisherman, jolted back into the moment says, “What?”

“Would you ever cheat to win a bass tournament?” the Devil repeats.

“Of course not,” says the fisherman.

“Would you cheat for 100 bucks? Maybe cast over into the closed area?” the Devil asks again.

“No way!” says the fisherman.

“Well,” the Devil persists. “Would you cheat for a $1,000? What does second place pay, anyway?”

“Doesn’t matter,” the fisherman responds again. “I’m not going to risk my place around here for a thousand dollars. Guys know me. I’m on all the websites.”

“Okay,” says the Devil. “Let’s make it $5,000. Would you cheat for $5,000? Hardly any of the circuits pay that much.”

“Five thousand,” the fisherman repeats. “No. I can’t cheat the guys for $5000. No way.”

But the Devil has the resources. “All right, then,” he says. “What if I give you a million dollars to cheat in the next tournament? No one needs to know. I can get small bills. You can open accounts around town and no one will be the wiser.”

The fisherman wavers. Glancing around to see if anyone is listening, he leans forward and says sheepishly, “Well, I guess I might cheat for a million dollars.”

The Devil looks pleased. “Very good,” he responds, “So let me ask you again. Would you cheat to win a tournament for $100?”

The fisherman is flabbergasted. “Wait a minute,” he blurts. “You just offered me a million dollars to cheat. What’s with the hundred bucks?”

“Well,” says the Devil. “We’ve already established that you’re a cheater. Now we’re just negotiating the price.”


4 Responses to “Sighting: The Devil down by the launch ramp”

by Guy Williams

Dang George, no one wants to say anything about this!? Funny to see everyone tight lipped!!!! The night thing is something that can, will and most likely does happen but they still have to get bites (not that it makes it right in any way). The bigger concern to me is thick shallow shad balls and how guys are catching the bass then. Sometimes I’d rather stay home while the shad are up on the lakes I fish frequently because of some of the stuff that could be happening. While I may want to stay home, I don’t because of my belief of one simple rule. If I don’t trust things are on the up and up I don’t play!! Until I have a reason not to trust the guy’s I fish against then I will play (and pay).

by George Kramer

I’m like you, Guy, I don’t want to believe the worst. However, unlike a lot of guys, I’m never surprised when it does.

Well the dude they just busted at DVL for fishing live Trout, won the boat he is fishing out of from my store a few years back. Known cheater and not the first time kicked out of DVL. Makes me wonder if it was won legit?

by George Kramer

Don’t want to be accused of “profiling” these days, but there are a handful of guys out there who fit the profile….