Suspected fishy business during bass tournament at Lake Pleasant

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by Crystal Cruz

azfamily.com

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 22 at 12:58 PM

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The bass are biting and fishermen are competing for them at Lake Pleasant.

Last weekend a participant was accused of pulling a fast one in a tournament.

“This puts a dark cloud over what was supposed to be fun,” said Don McDowell.

McDowell organized the annual "Bill Luke Big Bass Days" tournament.

“This guy for whatever reason went over and peaked into his live well and there was this big fish there,” said McDowell.

That's when a competitor of Michael Orozco's called over tournament officials.

Over the phone Orozco denied bringing his own fish to compete for cash.

Arizona Game and Fish is investigating if Orozco broke the law and brought the fish from Saguaro Lake.

“The reason these rules are in place is concern over spread of disease and invasive species,” said state official Tom Cadden.

State officials want fishermen to know it’s illegal to move fish from one lake to another without a permit.

Tournament officials said they take strict measures to prevent cheating.

“For the big money winners we have a mandatory polygraph test they have to pass before they win any money,” said McDowell.

The organizer also said in the past 14 years only three people have been caught cheating in the tournament.

Cadden said the investigation could take time and Orozco hasn’t been cited.

If someone is found guilty of moving fish from lake to lake they could face a maximum $750.00 fine and four month jail sentence.

A spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said they aren't investigating right now, but said the detectives could if AZ Game and Fish finds a law was broken. 
 

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