All the “good” ideas in bass fishing come from the West, right? But sometimes they just take a little bit longer to move across the country. Case in point, the lower level BFL tournament in North Carolina last weekend where one of the contestants was looking to assure he got the big fish money in the event at Lake Wylie.

At that time, John Hoyle (or is it Brian Hoyle?) apparently borrowed a page from Californian Mike Hart (convicted for his attempts to defraud competitors in the 2010 U.S. Open) by loading up one of his [Lake Wylie] fish with 11 ounces of custom-fitted lead.

Hart, as you might recall, used standard torpedo sinkers with a hook whipped on one end to hold them in place, but in this latest perpetration, the East Coast guy went for broke using a whole ingot, clearly trumping the Western finesse method of cheating.

Now, the short of it, he got caught and was banned for life. Pats on the back all around at FLW.

The rest of it: he doesn’t live around here. You’ll never see him on your local lake. He didn’t even have an original idea. And now you’ll forget about this story in a few days.

You will also be totally surprised and outraged when another western guy comes up with a clever new method of larceny. (All the good ideas, right?)


5 Responses to “All the good ideas come from the West?”

Sorry to correct you Mr. Kramer, but I don’t see Mike Hart as the guy you should cite as the pioneer of cheating. As a born and bred Californian, I take my cheaters seriously and no one should be placed higher on the altar of bass fishing underhandedness than Sandy DeFresco. A woman, no less, which makes it even more “western” and, one might say, forward thinking. Those eastern punks dribble down a few ounces of lead into their fish and call it day? Really?My girl Sandy dropped a 2 1/2-pound diver’s weight down the gullet of her fish by gawd, and that’s how we roll. And, last time I looked, Sandy still owns the 15-pound line class record in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Cheaters never prosper? Only in your dreams.

by George Kramer

Did I say “tournament” ideas? No doubt, that Miramar tale crossed my mind– 😉

by Rich Lingor

I recall reports of fat tissue that had grown around the divers weight suggesting that it had been in the fish for some time before it was caught. If this is true, it should let Sandy “off the hook” (groan. Additionally if the fat tissue report is true, it opens the possibility that a tourney cheater had weighed that fish in before it had been released and later caught by the lady in question. When we add the element of the story suggesting that her taxidermist found the weight, it is easier to surmise that Sandy was clueless. Mike Jones has convicted her. There could be other players. Mike Hart got caught but who knows how much has gotten by the weigh masters.

by George Kramer

Actually, the official statement at the time was there was a “piece of gristle” with the weight, which led to one biologist to surmise legitimacy. If you want to speculate on the matter, the week previous, angler Keith Gunsauls brought in a fish of similar size and weight (sans lead). That story is in the archives of WON–and photos of “both” fish.

Having covered all of the big bass trophy stories since 1982 including the DeFresco debacle, I learned one thing: Trust no one when it comes to these catches. In fact, the most consistent thing about all these stories is the wealth of counter-stories and explanations that always bubble to the surface after the fact. I was there, I talked to the taxidermists at Lyons & O’Haver and no one brought up the “tissue” story. If De Fresco was indeed not guilty and simply duped or caught a fish previously stuffed with the weight, there was never any evidence brought forward to support either contention. I don’t believe in coincidences but if I had to pick one, she was duped. Still, that does not change my position now when that name – or others – come up in conversation. Anyone who brings a huge fish to the scale under suspicious circumstances will suffer under the Jones Law of “guilty until proven innocent.” I saw too much of this stuff to have any compassion and I heard too many stories, like DeFresco’s, that had holes in them big enough to drive a flotilla of Ranger boats through. So, for all you conspiracy theorists out there, take it from someone who interviewed these big bass catchers right after the catches, tracked down the stories and, in some instances proved their duplicity. The answer to these riddles is always easier and less convoluted than most people imagine. And, yes, I still believe OJ did it.