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While the United States (and most of the world, for that matter) has been adjusting to the changes brought on by a global pandemic, the fishing industry has seen some interesting developments.
One of the most notable comes out of Utah, stemming from an October 2018 bass fishing tournament on Lake Powell.
A pair a tournament anglers from Washington City have formally been charged with one felony and two misdemeanors stemming from the illegal relocation of life fish.
Per a report released by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the anglers were charged in the Kane County 6th District Court. Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, have been charged with the following:
- Bribery or Threat to Influence a Contest: Third-degree felony
- Unlawful Release of Wildlife: Class-A misdemeanor
- Unlawful Captivity of Protected Wildlife: Class-B misdemeanor
According to a statement from Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Lieutenant Paul Washburn, there were two major factors that raised concerns about the validity of the fish Dennett and Wootton turned in.
First, the heads of the fish were smaller while they had fatter bodies. This led tournament organizers to believe that the fish may have had different dietary patterns than the rest of the pool.
Second, the fish had pronounced red fins — an indicator of stress. As these were the only fish with these features, organizers opted to disqualify the anglers after the first day of competition.
An investigation showed that the bass submitted for the Lake Powell tournament had actually been caught on Quail Creek Reservoir.
A History of Bass Tournament Cheating?
Just as tournament crappie angler Paul Turner earned a lifetime ban from Crappie USA after cheating during an October 2019 event, it is likely a similar fate may befall Robert Dennett and Kamrom Wootton.
During the investigation, it was found that the duo had secured “Top Three” finishes in eight different tournaments throughout 2018.
While the article does not explicitly state whether any cheating was suspected in those previous tournaments, it is certain that there will at least be an asterisk placed in the record books.