Cheating in CPR Kayak Bass Fishing Tournaments

The kayak fishing tournament social media world was buzzing today about an announcement by KBF, KBS and other groups about an individual who was caught cheating in live and online tournaments. In short, this individual was caught using altered Hawg Troughs to

This photo posted by KBS shows a real Hawg Trough compared to photos from the offender, who obscured his board and fish with his wrist.

make fish appear longer than they were in CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) photos, and, was using multiple altered Hawg Troughs to allow them to submit the same fish at different lengths. A couple of pretty good breakdowns were provided by Kayak Bass Series and by Chad Hoover in a long and transparent video. (NSFW – Language)

After the news broke today (Tuesday, April 19), social media platforms such as Facebook were buzzing with comments, declarations and anger from other kayak anglers. There is no secret that some people cheat, and anyone who didn’t think that was going on is naive. What made this revelation so noteworthy was the scale at which this individual had cheated – across several tournament formats and trails. He has been publicly humiliated and April 19 was likely the worst day of his life. And, he deserves it.

As for the issue of cheating…I believe Tournament Directors (TDs) have to be vigilant in guarding against cheating. TDs do a fantastic job and are generous with their time donated to running events for their anglers. In my opinion, TDs have a responsibility to ensure a close scrutiny on photos submitted for prize winning anglers. Spend a few extra minutes evaluating the winning photos to ensure nothing is going on. Competitors trust the officials to maintain the integrity of the sport. Once cheating or the rumor of cheating becomes associated with the sport, it will stunt the growth of tournaments and people’s confidence in the outcome of events. I’ll continue to compete because I enjoy it, but there are others who will walk away if they think cheating occurs. Now is the time to be extra careful and promote transparency.

Here are a few suggestions I would like to see to help discourage cheating and encourage transparency with CPR tournaments:

  • TDs should take a few moments with the photos of top finishers to ensure they look right. (some of pic examples from the┬ácheater should have been easy to spot with a little more scrutiny of the fish)
  • The photos of winning fish limits and big bass should be posted publicly so they can be viewed. This happens now with online tourneys and could be helpful in local tourneys.
  • Reduce any stigma surrounding someone reporting something questionable or unusual. If people are not comfortable in reporting someone breaking the rules, then the cheaters prosper.
  • Adoption of globally used rules for measurements, pre and post tournament procedures and use of identifiers would help streamline the rules and make it easier to spot anomalies.

This individual wasn’t the first to cheat (we all likely know someone who was caught) and won’t be the last. The fact that this has sent shock-waves through the kayak fishing community speaks to the importance of integrity in the sport. Kudos to those who uncovered this scam and systematically assembled the evidence in a way that left no question of how the rules were being violated.

Community and camaraderie are some of the most valued attributes of the kayak fishing experience – a few cheaters won’t take that away from us.