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Angler Allegedly Caught Cheating in Illinois Bass Tournament

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A tug engineer working on the Calumet River exposed an angler allegedly cheating in a bass tournament organized by the Cal Sag Bass Anglers (CSBA), leading to the angler's ban from future events held by CSBA and Big Lake Bass Anglers.

The engineer, known only as Joe, spotted the angler pulling into a barge slip on Friday night, spinning the boat around, and tying fish to the wall, which prompted him to record videos of the suspicious behavior.

Upon discovering that a fishing tournament was scheduled for the following day, Joe alerted conservation police officers (CPOs) and provided them with the evidence.

The CPOs confronted the alleged cheater at the tournament weigh-in at the Waterfront Bar and Grill in suburban Burnham, but formal charges have not been filed pending the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' (IDNR) legal department's assessment of the case.

The angler's apparent cheating involved catching fish before the tournament times and being on the water during the off-limits period, which violates CSBA rules.

The incident has drawn parallels to the high-profile cheating case in a 2022 Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament, where Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky pleaded guilty to felony charges for stuffing fish with weights.

Despite the cheating allegations, 70-year-old Joe Zehner emerged as the legitimate winner of the tournament, catching a total of 15.16 pounds and earning $1,372 in prize money.


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