Northern Minn Jaycees investigate possible cheating at fishing tournament
Contest officials confirmed this week that they are looking into whether three men from Ohio, a father, a son and another relative, legitimately caught the fish they say they did, earning first, third and 98th places among the 150 prize winners last weekend.
The fishing event has been billed as the largest ice-fishing contest in the world. An estimated 12,000 anglers were on Gull Lake a week ago Saturday, attracting local, regional and national media attention, which included Sports Illustrated. The sports magazine even published a major online photo spread of this year’s contest.
The events chairman has stated that organizers have no proof anyone cheated. Still, the title to the new pickup that Stephan Lyogky of Hartville, Ohio, won for catching a 3.10-pound northern pike during the three-hour contest is being withheld pending the investigation’s outcome.
A hold also has been placed on the contest’s third-place prize, a $1,000 check, won by Ivan Lyogky, Stephan’s father, and on the 98th-place prize, a certificate good for an ice auger, won by a relative, Rostik Lyogky.
Ivan and Stephan Lyogky told contest organizers they caught their fish near one another in the northwest corner of the 2-square-mile fishing area on Gull Lake’s Hole-in-the-Day Bay.
Over the contest’s 28 years, two other anglers have been investigated for possible cheating. One of the two people took a required lie detector test and passed it, and the other person declined, which was his right. When the man forfeited the test he also forfeited his prize.
The contest is a charity event organized entirely by volunteers. Since its founding, the event has raised more than $3.3 million for charities in the Brainerd area, with Camp Confidence, an outdoor center for people with disabilities, being the primary beneficiary.
Next years event is scheduled for January 26th and is already in the planning stages. Organizers stated that different security protocols will be in effect to reduce the possibility of cheating.