The kayak fishing world lit up in anger a few days ago. You’d have to live under a rock to not know about the cheating scandal, in many different tournaments including Kayak Bass Fishing, Kayak Bass Series, Angler Combat and Tourney, that made Andrew Shepherd the target of so many internet memes and insults.
Instead of using a standard bump board to measure his catch, Shepherd shortened the board and glued it back together in order to bring the larger numbers closer to the zero mark. The first 8 inches on most boards aren’t marked, so tournament directors had no reason to get suspicious, except for the fact the Shepherd was winning nearly every tournament he entered, claiming thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Shepherd also used up to two different boards so that he could measure the same fish multiple times and get two different measurements on the same fish, making it look like multiple fish.
Many tournament directors issues statements on social media about the issue, saying that they would investigate the issue to issue the fullest punishment they could. Kayak Bass Fishing director Chad Hoover banned Shepherd from the tournament for life. Other tournaments are paying out the second place anglers the first place prize money, as they receive money back from Shepherd.
Tournament Directors React
Andrew Cameron was affected on multiple levels, as he’s not only the vice president of Manley Rods and president of the Kayak Bass Series, but he also co-owns the Angler Combat series. “To say the least, I was definitely shocked and for the most part angry,” Cameron said about how he felt when he first heard about the situation. “More because how it affected so many anglers at this event and so many other events.”
Cameron was checking the scores and photos before posting a recap of the latest event on a Tennessee Wildlife Resources (TWR) lake when he noticed inconsistencies in Shepherd’s fish. At the same time, he noticed he had received numerous messages from anglers all around the industry, including Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) tournament director/founder Chad Hoover. “I wanted to consult with Chad before I did anything or said anything publicly, since my decision was going to affect everything,” said Cameron. “I then went and double checked everything to make sure I was right, before saying anything to the public and the night before I made a statement I called Andrew Shepherd.
KBF director Chad Hoover adds, “The KBF system flagged Andrew as soon as he entered a fish.” The tournament advisory group decided to let Shepherd register more fish to make a case. “It was the discussion in our KBF advisory group that led to all the phone calls to Andrew,” Chad explains. KBF and KBS collaborated to establish a pattern of behavior.
When Cameron asked Shepherd about the inconsistencies of his fish and the fact that his bump board looked to be altered or tampered with, Shepherd denied everything. “He was swearing up and down that he didn’t cheat, that he didn’t alter his bump board, saying it was in his possession the whole time,” said Cameron. “He was even swearing on his unborn child.”
After Shepherd spoke with Terry Manley, president of Manley Rods, he ended up returning the $3,000. “That usually constitutes guilt,” said Cameron. “Then it kind of snowballed from there.”
After returning $3,000 back to the Kayak Bass Series, other tournament directors demanded their prize money back, so they could redistribute it amongst the real winners of the events. “Andrew Shepherd has won thousands of dollars over the years,” said Cameron. “Within a period of 48 hours Andrew probably turned over $6000 in cash and another $4000 dollars in prizes.” At KBF, Hoover says, “We never awarded him a penny!”
The whole experience has left a sour taste in many anglers’ mouth, including the tournament directors. “I wish that the situation never happened,” said Cameron, “but I’m glad it did, because if he continued to fish and cheat as I’m sure he would have, it would have ruined it for a lot more anglers.”
To the many anglers that are looking at getting their start in tournament fishing, but look at this situation and might get discouraged, Cameron says don’t worry. “We’re aligning with Chad Hoover and the rules of the KBF are almost bulletproof,” he said. “We’ve got a great committee of people and a great team that will handle any situation. We’re going to do everything in our power to ensure that every angler has the best experience they can have on the water.”
In the next few days the Kayak Bass Series, along with the rest of the kayak fishing tournaments, will be releasing the newest changes to their rules to ensure a situation like this doesn’t happen again. “They’ll provide a more solid foundation that will be more reassuring to the anglers that are signing on to compete with us,” said Cameron.
Don Ivey fished the November Angler Combat tournament and put up an impressive tally of 87.75-inches, but there was a big gap between him and the first place angler, Andrew Shepherd, who took home $1000 after scoring 98-inches. Ivey’s second place prize was a WaspCam Gideon action camera. “I really fished my butt off against him that month,” said Ivey. “I was fishing the Susquehanna River catching 18-inche and 20-inch fish, and I just couldn’t catch him. Ivery said Shepherd even texted him numerous times to brag about how good the fishing was near him. “The son of a gun actually had the balls to brag,” said Ivery.
“At first I was like yea right,” said Ivey. Turns out the same month Ivey and Shepherd were fishing against each other, a prank was pulled on Ivery. The prank involved Shepherd “failing” a fake lie detector test, which would make Ivey the first place winner if he could pass a lie detector test of his own. “They gave me a fake lie detector test with all these bogus questions,” said Ivey. “It’s really quite ironic that he actually got caught cheating.”
Ivey said when found out the method Shepherd used to influence his score, laughed and said, “you have to put a lot of thought into that.” He continued, “People are always going to cheat, especially when money is involved, theres always going to be a guy bending the rules. There are just people that will lower their standards or morales for cash and cross that line.”
Now that Shepherd is no longer the first place winner, Ivey has been named the first place winner of the Angler Combat November tournament. He said, “I was obviously excited, but for me, I just enjoy fishing. To win a prize is a bonus on top of it, but typically it’s the guys youre fishing with, the charity youre fishing for, having fun and laughing–that’s what its really about. That’s what it really should be about.”
Ivey also wanted to add that all the tournament directors from the event did a great job. “The way they handled everything,” he said, “they really bent over backwards trying to fix everything. They were very apologetic and I was really happy with those guys.”
Many anglers are worried that Shepherd will be walking away from this situation with barely a slap on the wrist, but Cameron says to be patient. Shepherd has already been banned for life in nearly every kayak fishing tournament, and has been stripped of all of his titles, winnings and prizes.
That’s not all. “I think he’s learned his lesson, but I want people to know that he’s not going to get away with it,” said Cameron. “I wouldn’t say prosecution is off the table. I actually have meetings with the Kentucky State prosecutor, next week.”
The punishment might be more serious that many anglers would think, as the latest event in the Kayak Bass Series was held on a TWR lake, meaning that the offense could be considered a federal crime. “We’re turning over everything to the state and from there we’ll go along with anything that they want to do,” Cameron said. “This isn’t being taken lightly. It’s not going to get swept under the rug.”
As for Shepherd, he’ll likely never fish in a kayak fishing tournament again. “I would say there’s not a tournament out there that’s going to allow him to compete,” said Cameron. “Period.”
Editor’s Note: Andrew Shepherd, the angler accused of cheating at multiple tournaments, refused to comment after multiple attempts at contact.