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Thread: Bass Tournament Cheating Scandal

  1. #1
    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Bass Tournament Cheating Scandal

    Cheating Scandal at U.S. Open Rocks Bass-fishing Community


    Mike Hart (center) during the final-day weigh-in at the U.S. Open


    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.


    This is one of the lead sinkers removed from a bass caught by
    Mike Hart during the prestigious tournament at Lake Mead.

    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.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bass Tournament Cheating Scandal

    Cheater Mike Hart's Tournament History/Earnings


    ABA

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    10/26/02 Castaic Hart/Chandler 26th $ 0
    4/26/03 Casitas Hart/Chandler 12th $ 0
    5/17/03 Castaic Hart/Chandler 14th $ 150
    3/28/04 Casitas Hart/Chandler 12th $ 0
    4/3/04 Casitas Hart/Beckham 2nd $ 840
    7/23/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 4th $ 256
    11/20/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 1st $ 2,144
    2/26/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 1st $ 2,530
    3/15/05 Casitas Hart/Siemental 17th $ 0
    4/30/05 Casitas Hart/Siemental 3rd $ 750
    7/16/05 Casitas Hart/Siemental 4th $ 700
    8/30/05 Casitas Hart/Siemental 17th $ 0
    10/29/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 4th $ 680
    11/19/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 6th $ 554
    2/4/06 Castaic Hart/Siemental 6th $ 398
    3/11/06 Casitas Hart/Siemental 2nd $ 1,110
    4/8/06 Casitas Hart/Siemental 4th $ 272
    4/4/09 Castaic Hart – Solo 1st $ 2,067
    6/13/09 Castaic Hart – Solo 1st $ 2,022


    Total ABA Winnings $ 14,473
    Total ABA Events Fished 19
    Total events in the Money 13
    In the Money Percentage 68.5%


    WON BASS

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    11/10/01 Cachuma Hart/Chandler 39th $ 0
    11/16/02 Cachuma Hart/Chandler 8th $ 430
    6/7/03 Casitas Hart/Chandler 13th $ 120
    11/15/03 Cachuma Hart/Chandler 8th $ 300
    12/6/03 Casitas Hart/Chandler 26th $ 0
    11/13/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 1st $ 4,800
    12/11/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 16th $ 0
    2/19/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 34th $ 0
    5/22/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 7th $ 225
    6/11/05 Casitas Hart/Siemental 2nd $ 1,500
    10/14/05 Havasu/TOC Hart/Siemental 50th $ 0
    12/10/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 18th $ 0
    2/25/06 Castaic Hart/Siemental 2nd $ 1,575
    5/13/06 Casitas Hart/Siemental 1st $ 3,255
    11/12/06 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 4,890
    12/9/06 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 30th $ 0
    1/2/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 5,315
    3/3/07 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 5,330
    3/24/07 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 14th $ 0
    5/6/07 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 4,020
    6/2/07 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 4th $ 710
    Took 2006-07 SO Cal AOY Title worth approximately $2,500 $ 2,500
    11/3/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 5,345
    12/8/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 4th $ 730
    2/2/08 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 4th $ 540
    3/2/08 Casitas Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 1,045
    4/6/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 3rd $ 1,030
    5/4/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 3rd $ 1,345
    6/8/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 1,135
    Took 2007-08 SO Cal AOY Title worth approximately $2,500 $ 2,500
    10/12/07 Havasu-TOC Hart/Vizanko 86th $ 0
    11/2/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 3,520
    12/13/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 1,505
    2-28-09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 3rd $ 535
    3/21/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 4th $ 240
    4/19/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 1,770
    5/9/09 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 5th $ 0
    6/6/09 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,580
    Took 2008-09 SO Cal AOY Title worth approximately $2,500 $ 2,500
    Oct 2009 Mead-TOC Hart-Solo 2nd $5,000 (est)
    11/7/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,630
    12/12/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,170
    2/20/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 10th $ 0
    3/27/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,180
    4/25/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,000+
    5/8/10 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 1,590
    6/6/10 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 1,405
    Took 2009-10 WON BASS SO Cal AOY Title

    Total WON BASS Winnings $ 77,130
    Total WON BASS Events Fished 45
    Total events in the Money 34
    In the Money Percentage 75.5%


    Angler’s Choice

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    1/24/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,568
    2/22/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 4th $ 412
    3/28/09 Castaic Hart/VIzanko 1st $ 2,201
    5/23/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 810
    6/27/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,769
    8/9/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 1,824
    4/17/10 Castaic Hart – Solo 1st $ 1,120

    Total Angler’s Choice Winnings $ 11,704
    Total Angler’s Choice Events Fished 7
    Total events in the Money 7
    In the Money Percentage 100%


    National Bass West

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    2/21/04 Castaic Hart/Chandler 9th $ 120
    3/7/04 Castaic Hart/Chandler 9th Unknown
    4/10/04 Castaic Hart/Markarian 28th $ 0
    11/14/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 1st $ 2,790
    12/4/04 Castaic Hart/Siemental 6th Unknown
    2/5/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 1st Unknown
    4/2/05 Castaic Hart/Siemental 4th Unknown
    1/14/06 Castaic Hat/Siemental 9th Unknown
    5/20/06 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 10th $ 0
    6/4/06 Castaic Hrt/Vizanko 11th $ 0
    11/11/06 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 4,625
    12/2/06 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 22nd $ 0
    1/6/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 17th $ 0
    2/3/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 10th $ 150
    4/21/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 5th $ 584
    7/14/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 6th $ 292
    11/10/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 5th $ 605
    12/1/07 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 3rd $ 1,010
    2/9/08 Castaic Hart/Viznako 2nd $ 1,995
    4/26/10 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 10th $ 75
    5/31/08 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st Unknown
    11/8/08 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 1ST $ 5,470
    12/6/08 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 1st $ 5,190
    1/10/09 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 1st $ 4,265
    2/21/09 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 2nd $ 1,125
    3/7/09 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 1st $ 3,590
    4/25/09 Castaic Hart/Viazanko 1st $ 3,115
    9/12/09 Vail Lk Open Hart/Wong 1st $ 5,475
    11/14/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 3rd $ 1,165
    12/5/09 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 4,245
    2/27/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 2nd $ 1,070
    3/20/10 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,565
    4/30/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,535
    5/15/10 Pyramid Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,505

    Total Known National Bass West Winnings $ 54,561
    Total Known National Bass West Events Fished 35
    Total events in the Money 28
    In the Money Percentage 80%


    Friends of Castaic Lake

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    5/21/10 Castaic Hart/Vizanko 1st $ 2,525

    Total FOCL Winnings $ 2,525
    Total FOCL Events Fished 1
    Total events in the Money 1
    In the Money Percentage 100%

    K-FROG Open

    Date Location Team Place Winnings
    Spring 2004 DVL Hart/Siemental 1st $16,000**
    ** Dodge Truck valued at $16,000


    Total Winnings $ 176,393
    Total Events fished 108
    Total Events in the Money 84
    In the Money Percentage 77.77%


    Additional Winnings:

    NBW 2008/2009 season fo the Southwest Region
    November 8, 2008 Hart/Viazanko 1st $5,470
    December 6, 2008 Hart/Viazanko 1st $5,190
    January 10, 2009 Hart/Viazanko 1st $4,265
    February 21, 2009 Hart/Viazanko 2nd $1,215
    March 7, 2009 Hart/Viazanko 1st $3,590
    April 25, 2009 Hart/Viazanko 1st $3,115

    Vail Lake Open (no membership)
    September 12, 2009 Hart/Wong 1st $5,475

    Total Lifetime Winnings: $204,713

    You can almost pinpoint exactly where this a-hole may have started pulling this shit (stuffing lead in his catch). Every time this guy fished solo he either placed 1st or 2nd. I don't care how good an angler you are, NOBODY can get that many first and second place finishes in a row in a two year span! The sad thing is, I am sure this kind of crap happens all the time.... He's just the first stuffer to be caught!

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  3. #3
    Senior Member big boots mcghee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bass Tournament Cheating Scandal

    I love the punishment he was given for this - a lifetime ban. No slap on the hand, no "don't do this again". Nope, dude is out, plain and simple.
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

  4. #4
    Junior Member redboots's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bass Tournament Cheating Scandal

    looks like all the fish are going to be x-rayed at the end of each turney

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