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Old 08-07-2010, 01:13 PM
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Default Cheating scandal at U.S. Open rocks bass-fishing community

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cheating scandal at U.S. Open rocks bass-fishing community

By: Pete Thomas,

A professional angler found to have stuffed lead sinkers down the throats of fish he submitted for weigh-ins during a prestigious bass-fishing tournament has been banned for life from that and other competitions in a scandal that has rocked the tight-knit and passionate bass-fishing community.

Mike Hart, a successful Southern California pro whose career earnings total more than $200,000, was accused of cheating in this manner during the recent $100,000 U.S. Open held at sprawling Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border. An official with the Western Outdoor News bass tour said Hart confessed after he was caught virtually red-handed.

WON Bass will not pursue criminal charges against Hart, but the episode has tournament organizers around the country speaking out against cheating and seeking ways to prevent their events from being similarly tarnished.

"On the one hand it was a day of infamy for organized bass fishing in America," said Harvey Naslund, director of the WON circuit. "But on the other hand it was a major victory for all who have long cared for, and taken steps to protect the integrity of bass-fishing tournaments."

Catching a cheat is difficult because tournaments are catch-and-release, so bass are kept in aerated wells on the boats and weighed live at the end of each fishing day, then released.

However, sometimes bass die after being caught and Hart had offered three dead fish during the weigh-in on the second-to-last day of the U.S. Open. They were filleted so the meat could be delivered to a charity, and found to contain weights.

Officials waited until the final day to confront Hart, who turned in a full limit of five bass. All five were found to contain lead sinkers.

In all, nine sinkers were removed from bass turned in by Hart. Naslund said each sinker was torpedo-shaped and weighed two ounces. Each was attached to a short line and tied to a small treble hook, presumably to catch in the throat and hopefully keep the weights from entering the belly and being detected if the bass were cut open.

WON Bass determined that Hart acted alone, even though he had a lower-tier "Triple-A" fishing partner aboard his boat during each of the three days of the U.S. Open.

Naslund explained that the Triple-A partner fishes from the back of the boat while the pro stands at the bow, driving and steering with a foot-powered trolling motor.

On the third day of fishing, Naslund said, Hart was said to have asked his partner -- who had flown in from South Korea -- to change places while he rigged some tackle and checked on the fish in the live-well.

"The same scenario existed on Day 1 and Day 2 of the U.S. Open," Naslund said.

The South Korean angler, who would have shared part of whatever purse Hart had been entitled to after the third and final day, was given a refund for his entry fee.

For what it's worth, the U.S. Open was won by Arizona pro Clifford Pirch, with a total weight of 31.44 pounds. He earned $40,000, plus a new bass boat.

-- Top photo shows Mike Hart (center) during the final-day weigh-in at the U.S. Open. Bottom photo shows one of the lead sinkers removed from a bass caught by Mike Hart during the prestigious tournament at Lake Mead.
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:17 PM
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Default Re: Cheating scandal at U.S. Open rocks bass-fishing community

Just my opinion but me thinks these big money tournaments and the cheaters deserve each other.
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:38 PM
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Default Re: Cheating scandal at U.S. Open rocks bass-fishing community

Apparantly the guys kid joined the ensuing comment fray here defending her cheat of a dad and got crucified by the peanut gallery.
Heres a sample of the comments. There are some 6 pages of it.

Posted by bassin bob August 6, 2010 08:17pm PDT
"I will say this, my daughter would defend me if I was caught cheating, she would defend me by changing her name, and never wanting to be affiliated with me again. It does not matter if Ash is 15 or 17 or 23, it is very obvious she is developmentally challenged, did not one of you people notice this? She is reacting as any developmentally challenged child would she may be 15 or 17 but it is obvious she is challenged, be it Down's Syndrome, or just mild retardation. Beat up on her scumbag, cheating, lying, no good, piece of excrement male biological donor, as a father is more than a sperm donor, and he should not be allowed to be listed in the ranks of Fathers. A Father raises his children with love, and morals, and takes an active role in their education and upbringing, a Father would never sit idly by and allow a child to get to the age of 15/17 without a basic education.
It is not Ash's fault, if she is NOT mentally challenged it is a simple testament to Mike Hart's total disregard of her education, and her future wellbeing. there is no way he has prepared her for a life on her own, and now that he has no way to earn a living as he will never make a penny fishing again, and it is doubtful he can find any type of employment as no self respecting employer would hire someone like this lowlife scumbag. I have seen posts saying basically let him without sin cast the first stone. I can honestly say in my 49 years I have NEVER cheated at any sport, or at any game. Hart I also want to say you had better stay away from the Poker tables too. I have met this scum myself at a few different tournaments although I have not had the honor of being able to compete, and I will reiterate, if I ever have the displeasure of meeting him again I will spit in his eye and will tear off Sparx's arm and beat him with it until he wishes he was a Bass with a lead weight shoved down it's throat!!!"
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