The integrity of fishing tournament results in Texas is not something that the state penal code takes lightly.
Case in point: Nearly seven months ago, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife news release, Terry Keith Long of Bridgeport, Texas, brought his haul of bass up to be weighed at the conclusion of the 2018 Big Bass Splash on Lake Fork in East Texas, about 60 miles east of Dallas.
Now, he faces a felony fraud charge after Wood County’s Nov. 2018 indictment against him was unsealed last week, leading to Long’s arrest Friday, according to court documents. He has since posted $25,000 and been released from Wood County Jail.
“Further investigation revealed that his fish had been altered with its tail trimmed to fall within the [lake’s] slot limit,” Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Aubry Buzek told McClatchy.
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See on Lake Fork, any black largemouth bass that falls between 16 and 24 inches long must be thrown back into the water, according to TPWD’s local fishing regulations. For a fisherman to legally be able to keep the bass, even during a tournament, it must fall outside, on either side of that 16-24 inch slot.
But authorities say he snipped the tail of the fish in question, which implies that it was longer than Lake Fork’s 16-inch minimum, but shorter than 24 inches when he caught it.
Fraud in a Texas fishing tournament can be treated as a Class A misdemeanor, or a third-degree felony, according to the Texas penal code.
What moved Long’s alleged snip-job into felony territory is that authorities say he did it in a tournament that offered $10,000 or more in prizes.