Their 'Fish Story' Ended With Felony Convictions

2 pleaded guilty to tampering to influence a fishing contest
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2020 9:02 AM CDT
A Utah First: Felony Convictions for Cheating at Fishing
Left, a suspect fish with red fins. Right, a fish caught at Lake Powell.   (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

There's a reason a "fish story" has become synonymous with the unbelievable. Two fisherman have pleaded guilty to felony charges for lying about some impressive fish entered in a Utah fishing tournament. Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, are the first people in the state's history to be prosecuted for cheating in such a contest, reports the New York Times. They were one of about 25 teams looking for five largemouth bass with the highest total weight in a two-day fishing tournament on Lake Powell in Big Water in October 2018. After the first day, the pair were in second place and had produced the largest fish overall. But their five fish were of a different shape than the ones their fellow competitors pulled from Lake Powell, suggesting they consumed a different diet. They also had reddish coloring on the mouth and fins—a sign of stress. The men were disqualified.

The wildlife resources division called in an investigator, who questioned the men. "One of them started to kind of acknowledge that yeah, the fish maybe hadn’t come from Lake Powell. Then he very quickly asked for an attorney, and the other individual didn’t want to say anything," a rep tells the Times. A lab eventually determined the fish couldn't have come from Lake Powell and officials learned the pair had been fishing at another spot, 180 miles west, before the tournament began. They pleaded guilty to tampering to influence a contest, a third-degree felony, and misdemeanor charges of unlawful release of wildlife and captivity of protected wildlife on Aug. 27, per KTVX. The charges will be dismissed once the men complete two years' probation and 48 hours of community service. They must also pay $2,500, equal to the prize money, to the wildlife division's anti-poaching fund. (More fishing stories.)

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