CLEVELAND (WJW) — He could tell the fish wasn’t right.
Spectators were gathered for the weigh-in at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship in Gordon Park Friday afternoon, when tournament director Jason Fischer told himself, “There is just no way.”
It started with a fish offered up by two top competitors that he guessed would weigh well below the largest of the day — 7.5 pounds. But then the scales read nearly 8 pounds, and their bag of smaller fish seemed off, too.
“I have the right as tournament director to question things,” Fischer said. “I squeezed the belly of the fish and I felt hard objects so I told someone to get me a knife.”
Gutting open the fish, he said he found 12-ounce lead ball weights inside.
“I made a distasteful comment and told them to leave,” he said. A now-viral video shows the pair was then surrounded by angry competitors before exiting.
Following the incident, Fischer took to the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Facebook page to apologize and announced the rightful winners.
The pair accused of cheating, whom FOX 8 is not naming as they have not been charged, were in first place heading into the championship, which was moved down to a 1-day event due to weather. Fischer said the two, who had racked up plenty of wins and thousands of dollars over the past years, never did anything to raise suspicion prior to this in his tournaments.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene Friday and told FOX 8 they are “preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.”
FOX 8 News reached out to Cleveland Metroparks for comment but has not heard back.