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ODNR issues statement after Cleveland fishing tournament controversy

An investigation is underway after two competitors were allegedly caught cheating by adding weights and fish filets inside their catch.

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources tells 3News their officers are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with last week's Cleveland fishing tournament controversy.

The situation, which has since generated national attention, centers around competitors Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky after video shows weights and fish filets were allegedly discovered inside their catch.

Here’s the full statement from ODNR, which 3News received Tuesday morning:

ODNR wildlife officers responded to the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament on Friday, September 30, 2022 after being contacted by tournament organizers. Officers collected evidence and are preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.

As this is an open investigation, we have no further comment at this time.

Video of the weighted-fish controversy, which has been circulating on social media since late last week, can be seen in the tweet below:

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Cleveland fishing tournament ends in controversy as winners caught with weights in walleye

During our initial coverage of this story, 3News spoke with criminal defense attorney Adam VanHo – who also happens to be an avid fisherman.

"We call it 'theft by deception, which essentially is you tried to steal something by making what you're turning over different,” VanHo said.

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in our previous coverage of this story on Oct. 1, 2022.

The tournament’s director, Jason Fischer of Lake Erie Walleye Trail, also provided an update Monday with a video statement posted on Facebook.

"On Friday, we witnessed one of the most disgusting acts that the fishing world has ever seen," he said. "This type of behavior will not be tolerated."

Fischer also said he gave information about the incident to ODNR officials.

"To see so much negative light on our sport hurts me to the core," Fischer said.

2022 LEWT Championship Statement from TD Jason Fischer

Posted by Lake Erie Walleye Trail on Monday, October 3, 2022

3News' Emma Henderson contributed to this report.


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