Regulation of the Day 174: Lying about the Size of the Fish You Caught

If you live in Texas, look over your shoulder before you tell a tall tale about your last fishing trip. The state legislature there just voted to make lying about the size of your catches in fishing tournaments a Class A misdemeanor. And if the prize money is over $10,000, you could spend up to ten years in jail as a convicted felon.

In 2009, an especially devious fisherman in the Bud Light Trails Big Bass Ray Hubbard tournament “put a one-pound lead weight inside the stomach of the 10.49-pound bass he had entered to win the grand prize, a $55,000 fishing boat,” according to the The New York Times.

Fishing tournaments, just like other competitive sports, have their own rules. Violators are punished. The NFL reserves the right to fine and suspend players for misconduct. Major League Baseball hands out 50 and 100-game suspensions for players caught using steroids. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for betting on his team.

The tournament organizers foolishly couldn’t punish their own cheater because they didn’t have a rule for it. But submitting a leaden fish is a kind of fraud, especially when the prize is $55,000. And in fact, the man was charged with felony theft. He served 15 days in jail, was hit with a $3,000 fine, plus five years of probation. His fishing license was also taken away for five years.

That’s precisely why the bill on Governor Rick Perry’s desk is unnecessary. One, theft is already illegal. Two, if the Bud Light Trail tournaments are competently run, they now have specific rules and punishments for cheaters. Seems like a classic “do something” bill that doesn’t do much at all.