(WKBN) – Two Ohio men are accused of putting lead weights in fish they caught during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship on Friday.
Tournament director Jason Fischer inspected the fish caught by Chase Cominsky and Jacob Runyan, according to the Toledo Blade. He told Nexstar that during that inspection, he felt hard objects in the belly of one of the fish.
Multiple videos shared on TikTok from the event show Fischer finding the weights in the fish. The crowd around them can then be heard yelling at Cominsky and Runyan to leave. Other fishermen can also be heard yelling expletives toward the men.
Fischer posted an apology on Lake Erie Walleye Trail’s Facebook page, stating, “All LEWT anglers deserve better, I will take time and figure out how I can solidify the integrity of our sport here on Erie. I appreciate all the support the last 24 hours and for the last 4 years. I truly love what WE have built and I will be back next season with some great new ideas. Schedule will be posted soon!”
Cominsky and Runyon, who were disqualified, would have finished in first place and taken home a prize of roughly $30,000.
Fischer, who also serves as a Cleveland police officer, said on Facebook that Steve Tsczyko and Christopher French won first place.
According to the Blade, Cominsky and Runyan were disqualified from another Lake Erie Walleye Trail event in 2021 because one of them failed a polygraph test. Runyan told the Blade that they passed a subsequent polygraph test.
Lake Erie Walleye Trail’s tournaments offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes each year.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) confirms that its wildlife officers were contacted by tournament organizers on Friday. They are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Officials at ODNR declined to comment further, saying the investigation is still open.