Tournament Integrity: The Tournament Director’s Response

Courtesy Andrew Cameron
Virtual ruler overlay shows how this angler shortened his measuring device to win cash and prizes.

Andrew Cameron is vice president of Manley Rods and President of Kayak Bass Series and co-owner of Angler Combat tournaments. He recently uncovered alleged cheating in his tournaments. We spoke with him about the future of kayak fishing tournaments:

Kayak Angler: How prevalent is cheating in kayak fishing tournaments? How many cases of cheating been discovered by tournament organizers? What was the issue? How was it resolved?

Andrew Cameron: I would like to think that it’s not prevalent at all, however, it seems to be a wild trending topic lately. With all the discoveries in the Kayak Bass Series, by myself and with the help of other TD’s, it has been a scary place for the honest angler. 

This particular issue the angler had multiple Hawg Troughs with them in their kayak, and each of them were different lengths. One was 2 inches shorter, another 4 inches short. This would make a 16” fish potentially look 18”-20” depending on the board utilized. This angler not only won a major trail event, but he also won the inaugural online event for Angler Combat in his respective division, as well as a nearly 2 year run in a club trail for thousands of dollars in prizes and cash.

After being identified, he was stripped of his winnings, banned from our trails, as well as plenty of others, and we’re working with the State of Kentucky on further legal action. There will be more developing on this in the near future, but we can’t really speak on it as of now, as nothing is set in stone. It’s got to be embarrassing for him, and some have asked if I felt he’s seen enough, and while the heart in me says yes, the tournament director in me, says no. It’s up to us to maintain the integrity of the competitor sport anglers out there, and if we don’t do ours, then we’ll certainly lose belief and faith from other competing anglers.

Kayak Angler: What steps are being taken to prevent further cheating? How have procedures and policies changed? What has been the result?

Andrew Cameron: There’s been a lot of changes made since then. The main one that we are taking is making it mandatory for all 1st place anglers to take a truth verification test. There’s quite a few out there that are available, and I do feel that on our level of the playing field, we need to set a standard for that. Anything over $1000 for 1st place generally draws a good crowd. These guys and gals come from hundreds of miles away to compete in a friendly and honest environment. It’s up to us to keep it straight.

Another thing is moving towards a more singular/vertical rules basis where there is one standard on rules for all kayak tournaments. I can say that I’ve visited the Kayak Bass Fishing Rules a few times, and I really like the idea of aligning, and until we can come to a solidified solution for our Kayak Bass Series Trail, we will be adopting the KBF Rules to help align intermittently.

Judgement of the fish submissions has become a greater feat. The KBF and KBS utilize two different systems for Tournament Management. TourneyX and iAngler Tournament are the two more popular systems out there, and we are currently aligned with iAngler Tournament. I’ve had meetings with Michael Christopher on numerous topics, and we’re working to help Tournament Directors not only feel at home in this system, but have all the tools necessary. There is a Virtual Ruler that is in BETA inside the Dashboard for the tournament directors with iAngler Tournament, and it’s absolutely a great tool. You’ll be able to size any fish, and scale to any photo submitted. We’re still working on some feedback, and a few other items before it’s fully launched, but I’d say once it makes it to the big table, people will think twice about length alterations. 

At the last Kayak Bass Series Event on Lake Fork, we had a great turnout, and we actually inspected and tagged each Hawg Trough before the event, and removed the tags after the event. It went pretty smooth, and we had pretty good insurance on utilizing a fair playing field!

Kayak Angler: How have tournament participants responded to this issue? What has been the fallout? Blowback?

Andrew Cameron: Man…I have to say it has been tremendously positive. You’ll never please everyone, and I know as a Tournament Director, just like an Editor, you have to hold your stance and be somewhat opinionated, but I have absolutely no doubt that we were able to turn this negative issue into a positive outcome.

There hasn’t been any fallout, really. It’s reassuring to the anglers that we have identified this, and pushed forward so strongly. I know a lot of people were worried that we would be brushing this under the rug, but that’s not the case at all. We have really been hard on the situation, and we know that we are doing the right thing. I am a firm believer that if we do the right thing, and in the right timeframe, those that believe in us will continue to grow in numbers.

The angler that set fire to the kayaking world was one of our Team Manley members, and we had a lot of faith and belief in him. We were aware of his family, job, clubs, outside of everything else. We had a great connection with him, and even his close friends had no idea about his dishonest habit. He has been removed from our Team, banned from both the KBS and Angler Combat, and will most likely never fish another tournament again. 

A lot of people ask if I feel bad for him… I don’t. I wish he was smarter and not so confident with his decisions. He called a lot of people out, bragged about his wins, and really put himself on a pedestal. It’s a shame it came to this, and I do feel for his family, because there’s much greater impact involved in this than just a slap on the wrist and a kick out the door from the kayak community. His family’s lives are forever changed, because of the wake that this caused. They are in my prayers, but not him. He deserves this; they don’t.

 

Chad Hoover is owner of Hook1 Outfitters, host of Kayak Bassin’ on World Fishing Network and runs Kayak Bass Fishing tournament network. Kayak Angler asked him about cheating in tournaments. Here’s how Chad handles the issue. 

Kayak Angler: How prevalent is cheating in kayak fishing tournaments? How many cases of cheating been discovered by tournament organizers? What was the issue? How was it resolved?

Chad Hoover: We’ve had people try it and caught them. Banned a person for life but didn’t have a public discloser clause so we couldn’t out him. Amended rules so we can publicly out him. Haven’t had any problems. When he decided to fish our tournament our system flagged him. This dude screwed himself. They’re throwing the book at him. Started with KBS is over 1000 dollars grand larceny in Kentucky. He cheated in five or six tournaments with money payouts. Each fish he measured is considered a felony. He could face jail time. Since KBS and KBF are tournament trails he paid a professional association fee and professional account he cheated in a professional capacity. I hate to see someone’s life ruined over it.

Kayak Angler: What steps are being taken to prevent further cheating? How have procedures and policies changed? What has been the result?

Chad Hoover: We caught him so what we’re doing works. Our system is bulletproof. We’re forcing compliance with other clubs in the country. If other clubs want to be part of the trail then they have to use their rules. Gives us an impetus for compliance now. For us it has been a surge in confidence for our system. Now other tournaments want to use our system. I think it is the best thing that ever happened. We had a new board designed. Time-line speed up because of things like this.

Our rules are a culmination of 20 years of tournament experience. Virtual tournaments, live tournaments, our rules are designed to educate the angler how to compete ethically. One thing we’ve been reluctant to do as prize money grows is we haven’t disclosed our checkpoints. What our validation points are. You educate the cheater. We implemented multi-tiered check point system with check and balance and cooperation with other directors. We are using the Tourney X system and Virtual Hog Troughs. Multi-point check lists to advise judges. We’ve written clear guidelines for judges. We don’t have to learn from scratch again. We benefit from mistakes anglers make. On top of that our real strength is running kayak bass fishing tournaments. We’ve created an advisory group. We want it to be part of sanctioning body that will have organizational oversight for all bass fishing tournaments. The groupe includes 57 tournament directors, it is part of an open discussion in private group each time we modify rules. Anytime an issue comes up and the advisory group discusses and make sure it is addressed. It is a continuous improvement product. We receive feedback from thousand of entries per year. What we learn in a month would take a stand-alone director years to learn.

The community came together to solve this. Club presidents, tournament directors, we put everything on the table and made best decisions for the sport to deal with incident and move forward. Could be construed as black eye for the sport, the silver lining is everyone came together so integrity of fair competition associated with catch photo release tournaments have never been more unified. Closing loop-holes. In the end, it’s a good thing that it happened, but it sucks for old boy.

We’ve got a new measuring board we’ve been working on since last year. We’re in prototype phase so we can review it. We’ve included tamper-proof indicators.d

Previous articleHow Catching Whitefish Will Make You A Better Angler (Seriously)
Next articleKayak Fishing ClassicS Lagoon Classic 2016 Results
Ric Burnley
“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here