While the two accused have since been charged with attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and unlawful ownership of wild animals after they were found putting lead weights in fish they caught ahead of a final weigh-in, it’s put the normally laid-back sport in the headlines.
NewsNation’s Sloane Glass spoke with one of the best in the business, Mike Gofron, who has been fishing walleye for more than 30 years.
He says they hope to cast this scandal aside and get back to what they love to do: fish.
“I mean, that put food on my table for my kids and my wife, and that supported our family, and the drive for any professional sport out there,” said Mike Gofron speaking to NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Thursday.
“You have got to be on the ball. You have to, if you’re gonna be No. 1, you got to practice and time that devotion of, you know, being as good as you can be as far as fishing. You know, you practice, you prep, you double-check your knots,” Gofron said.
Gofron is mad at Runyan and Cominsky for stuffing fish with weights, then trying to claim the top prize. The duo’s boat and trailer were seized a day after they were indicted.
“These individuals took it upon themselves to just say, ‘screw it, we’re going to cheat and we’re going to win somehow, some way, and we’re going to be so greedy we’re going to do it until we get caught,'” Gofron said.
“I don’t know what they are thinking. I have no idea, but the dedication for a professional fisherman — I don’t care what fish you’re fishing for: ocean fish, bass, even, you know, the crab guys on ‘Deadliest Catch.’ … I mean, the preparation you see on TV — it’s the same thing with walleye fishing, same thing with bass fishing out there. So, it’s just incredible as far as what they went through as far as cheating. I can’t believe it,” Gofron said.
Before the tournament, Runyan, one of the men accused of cheating, was heard bragging to contestants. “I don’t want to sound arrogant or cocky, but I am confident that we should do well in this championship, also because that’s just what we do, winners win,” Runyan said.
NewsNation crews attempted talking to Runyan before his arrest, but he just wanted them to leave.
“Ge the f— off my property,” Runyan can be heard saying to NewsNation’s cameras.
Gofron — who himself is in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and is an author and well-respected fisherman — thinks there is no place for cheating in fishing competitions.
“So unbelievable what they’ve done. So I hope they get the full effect of what they’ve done, you know, from the laws,” Gofron said.
The prize money the duo was competing for is much smaller than what they’ll be paying out in fines: Runyan and Cominsky each face up to three years and 30 days in prison, as well as nearly $8,000 in fines.