Maybe not in some major national event, but don’t think for a minute that tournament cheating (or attempts at such larceny) are any less prevalent today than say a couple of years back. (See special note below).

Case in point. While enjoying the taco lunch following today’s (March 22) El Cajon Ford team tournament at El Capitan Lake, I saw on display at the gazebo on the upper parking lot, a fish holding device that had been discovered this past Monday.

what the heckUnfortunately, I did not take my regular camera gear and have only a poor cell phone image to share, but nonetheless, there it was–and no perpetrators have been discovered.

Clearly, this was a premeditated move, based on the construction which included a dozen flexible cross wires that kept four metal stringer “clips” on the outside framework, weighted by a pair of pyramid sinkers. The whole thing was attached to a nylon rope.

It is presumed, fish caught before a given event were to be clipped to the the device where they could later be brought to the surface and dispatched into a livewell. (It’s been done before–and obviously, it could be done yet again.)

SPECIAL NOTE: Let me make it completely clear, those folks in this cell phone image were all legitimate participants in the El Cajon Ford event, and in fact, participating in the raffle drawing. For that reason, if any of those individuals shown wants the photo removed or a retraction made, I will heed their wishes.

They, as well as my partner and I, could have been victimized, but an angler out on Monday snagged the cheater’s tool and brought it to the lake staff. I just wanted you to see the contraption.


19 Responses to “Evidence shows cheating alive and well?”

by Michael Seewald

I see it was for a team, as there are at least 10 places for fish to be kept. No reason to have more than five for a single cheater. Sad. Too bad the idiot brought the contraption in, instead of taking staff to the location.

It’s noted the folks in the pic had nothing to do with the display, don’t think you need to worry about the removal George, or I could blurr the faces if you’d like.

by George Kramer

Wouldn’t be too hard on whoever made the find. The “thing” may have not been immediately recognized for what it was, or the fisherman may have been thinking prevention, not about a potential arrest.

by Guy Williams

I can’t tell but is that quagga on it GK? If it is my guess would be a long term deal and not a quick 1 or 2 time deal. Sad to see never the less!!

by George Kramer

Actually (and I know the photo is weak) I did not see any evidence. The cross wires were lined with some kind of washer or spacer (rusty brown) that gives the appearance of shells.
Also, evidence of the time it took to build it.

It’s hard to tell from the photo but it looks like snow chains for a tire. Are you this was intended for cheating? Or a creative dragging tool built by some guy trying to recover a $500 swimbait lost on the bottom? Just seems weird to use bright yellow rope if you are trying to keep something concealed.

It definitely looks like it was going to be used for exactly what you are saying! It looks like it is one of those emergency ladders that you would use to get out of a burning building (with obvious modifications)! Too bad the cheaters couldn’t have been caught.

by George Kramer

Hard to discern motive, Tom. Four stringer clips suggest “fish holders.” But the rope is kind of short for lure retrieving–unless you only fish shallow. Maybe someone will come forward and tell us their intentions…

I’m not saying you are wrong, George. Just that there have been some funky contraptions built recently by guys trying to recover baits, rods, whatever. I was telling my partner Kieth about it today and he said that he built something similar 15 years ago with the same speed clips on it in an attempt to recover a rod. The thought was that the opened clips might catch the rod easier. People do weird stuff sometimes…

by George Kramer

Since we’re condemning an unknown perpetrator (who as you suggest, may not even be one) let me add this. To believe all is well leads to complacency. I would rather we be more vigilant, more suspicious, so we don’t suddenly have one of those teeth-gnashing, awakenings of “How could this happen?”
For as you say, “People do weird stuff sometimes.”

First of all Seewald, there are only 4 places for fish to be kept, not 10 and there would be no need for 10 regardless if it were a team event or not. And the guy wasn’t an idiot for bringing it in.If there had been fish on it, maybe it would prove beneficial to set the trap, but otherwise no real purpose.

Second, it could also very well be a stringer for legitimate fish. And also quite likely to be a lure retriever. The thing looks like it would be great for dragging the bottom and trying to find swimmers, rods and reels.

Cheating is always the first assumption, but it really does look like an effective lure retriever.

by Jason Prewitt

In my opinion this is OBVIOUSLY for cheating. Good Lord! If someone built this contraption to recover a rod or some big-time swimbait why was it left out in the water? Did the contraption itself get snagged so the builder just abandoned it WITH NYLON ROPE as if it couldn’t be pulled free?? I can tow a car with nylon rope. In the words of Michael Irvin “Come On Man”. Did the story not say it was simply snagged and brought to the surface by some other angler? I believe many of your are giving too much benefit of the doubt here. I’m glad the contraption was found. Perhaps it will bring cheating concerns back to the forefront of tournament fishing.

There are probably more than one of those things in the lake.

Let’s think this through. How many boats in San Diego waters carry snow chains on board? Me neither. So, this isn’t likely a spontaneously created “lure retriever.” It was obviously pre-meditated. If it didn’t have the four – and I think that’s critical – fish clips, specifically designed for holding fish, then maybe it was designed to retrieve things from the bottom. However, with those specific added features, this was clearly intended to hold some tournament fish. And, I would be willing to bet it was intended to hold them vertically, hence the weights at the bottom and line at the top – probably to be attached to the bottom of one of the buoys in that end of the lake. Easy enough to retrieve without much notice. All they need to do is catch one more fish to fill out their limit. And, we know it’s not an innocent “lure retriever” because nobody’s claimed it.

Oh, and by the way, it won’t work as a lure retriever the way it’s set up. In order to work as a lure retriever, the weights have to be closer to the rope, so the contraption is weighted down on the bottom of the lake as it is pulled by the rope in order to snag stuff on the bottom. The way it’s set up, the contraption will be pulled off the bottom of the lake by the rope while the weights are the only thing on the bottom. Think of it like a giant Carolina rig versus a dropshot rig. Which rig drags the bottom? Anyone who says this is a lure retriever is kidding themselves. We have (more) cheaters in our midst. No doubt about it at all.

by George Kramer

Of course, the part we have not discussed is the fact that someone may not be a design expert at either lure retrieving or tournament larceny. Maybe it’s just a faulty product. But I will give a lot more credence to the lure retriever theory–when Tackle Warehouse has these contraptions for sale.

this is a cable chain ( I know I live in Tahoe) typically used for a passenger car or mini van. I don’t think they make them for large trucks.
Clearly intended to be used for cheating based on the 4 clips on the sides. No reason to have those if you’re dragging the bottom for a lost rod……..

Great idea George. I bet you could make bank selling them. You could call it, “lunker retriever.” “Guaranteed to save your tournament day.”

People do weird stuff and people also cheat.

Never underestimate the power of denial.

by Patrick Keniry

Looks obvious to me it was made for stringing fish up !
Too bad some people are born without a conscience !