Game wardens inspecting the takes of the "Nice Tails" team at the annual Ladies Kingfish tournament last month knew something was up when they saw a trout with a mottled belly and a flounder whose appearance since the team's last inspection was fishy at best.As you might expect, Grits considers this new felony both dumb and unnecessary, and since I've already explained why I'll just repeat those comments here.
The unlikely "catches" to them were another example of a sort of open secret: that cheaters were among the competitors for the thousands of dollars in prizes awarded during one of South Padre Island's biggest events.
You know what the punishment should be for cheating or lying about the length of a fish in a tournament if you get caught? Disqualification. Ban them from future tournaments. If the tournament is affiliated with others, ban them from those. Why can't the private sector take care of this on its own? Why should law enforcement be involved at all, much less make it a third degree felony? After all, prosecution for the offense assumes the perpetrator is found out; if they don't catch cheaters, they face no penalty, criminal or otherwise.
Looking at this bill, though, claims about fish lengths, weights and numbers at tournaments had already been subsumed under the purview of law enforcement, this just boosts the penalty to felony status. An already existing provision in the law holds that "A person commits an offense if the person sponsors or conducts a fishing tournament and knows of the occurrence in the tournament of activity prohibited by Subsection (b) of this section and does not immediately notify a law enforcement officer commissioned by the director of its occurrence." So not only is cheating or lying about your catch an offense, it's an offense for tournament managers not to report it!
A 3rd degree felony obligates taxpayers to a 2-10 year prison sentence, or if the fisherman is put on probation, that puts them at greater risk of imprisonment later for violating their probation terms. Government has no business being involved in prosecuting fishermen for exaggerating their catch. I'm certain you could have prosecuted half the boys in my senior class for lying about the biggest fish they ever caught. I don't condone doing it in a tournament, but I can't fathom why it's the government's job punish hyperbolic anglers for misrepresenting a fish when the private sector has ample remedies available to them.