First there was the $18,000 bass-fishing tournament last May in Florida. The publisher, vice-president and field editor of American Bass Fish Magazine have been charged with rigging it by catching a mess of bass the week before the contest, storing the fish in tanks and then giving them to unindicted co-conspirators to present to contest judges as legitimate catches. Allegedly, the anglers with an angle turned over half their winnings to the accused, who last week denied everything.
The organizers of another big Florida bass bash, something called the $100,000 World Championship of Bass Fishing held several weeks ago near Lake Whales, were taking no chances. They laid on a lie detector test, an X-ray machine to check the largest bass for lead pellets or other weight-inducing additives and tranquilizers to keep the bass quiet while being weighed. Still they got snookered.
In a classic case of "local knowledge," Jim Melvin of St. Petersburg and Larry Singleton of Tampa labored for two days before the tournament clearing a hyacinth-clogged canal into a lake. They gambled that by the time their secret fishing hole had been discovered they would be home rich. How right they were. Melvin, quite legally, won $20,000 for his catch—the limit of 20 bass, weighing in at 44 pounds, 11 ounces. Singleton, within the law, too, picked up $10,000 as runner-up with a total eight pounds lighter. The money, they said, beat the going two-day rate for canal clearing.
The lie detector test? The top 10 producers, who reeled in $65,000 collectively, sailed through polygrapher Ben Bennet's searching questions without a flicker. But the X-ray machine never arrived and the plan to tranquilize the fish was aborted when all 1,000 or so were brought in at the same time. Most of the bass were released, presumably to test fishermen—and liars—another day.