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Friday, February 15, 2013

Alleged cheater busted at Park Rapids tourney

Park Rapids, Minn. — To get a jump on the competition at a Park Rapids-area ice-fishing contest, one competitor brought along with him a couple specimens of his own, according to the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department. Now that person is facing possible attempted theft charges, as well as a DNR citation for transporting live fish from one body of water to another.

The fish the contestant was caught with wouldn’t have won the unnamed subject (charges hadn’t been filed as of Outdoor News press time on Tuesday) the contest’s grand prize, a pickup truck, but could’ve qualified him for any number of other fine prizes, according to Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes. The 15th annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest was held last Saturday on Fish Hook Lake.
Contests with big-buck prizes “sadly,” Aukes said, “make (cheating) more tempting.”

According to the sheriff’s department, the male suspect came to the American Legion fishing contest with two northern pike in a pull-type sled. Upon seeing the northern pike in the sled, other contestants confronted him, then contacted American Legion officials and Sheriff Aukes.

But the time Aukes located the suspect, he’d put one of his northerns down a hole. He still had one, however.

“We caught him red-handed,” Aukes said. “And he fessed up to what he did.”

The fish the subject kept was in the 2- to 3-pound range, according to Aukes. In the “northern, walleye, largemouth bass” division, the top fish was a 6.26-pound northern pike, and the angler won an ATV. The top fishing prize, however, went to the person who caught the 15th-largest fish (the 15th annual contest), which was a 2.06-pound northern.

The grand prize, the pickup, was won on a raffle ticket.

Aukes said some tournaments are operating that way – not awarding the largest fish – to dissuade cheaters.
“There’s less incentive to sneak fish in,” he said.

Aukes said he expects charges to be filed – and the subject to be identified – in a few days. Possible charges include attempted fraud or attempted theft by swindle, he said. A fine is likely, but jail time is also possible, depending on the individual’s criminal background, he said.

It’s likely, too, that the subject will be cited for transferring the fish between water bodies. CO Colleen Adam investigated for the DNR. She said the subject had a fishing license.

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