A $13,506 Fish Fraud

Did Craig Provost really catch that record-setting, $13,506.87 prize-winning walleye? 

Craig Provost with the 30-inch walleye that netted him more than $13,000.
Craig Provost with the 30-inch walleye that netted him more than $13,000.

A day before the 2016 LCI Father’s Day Derby kicked off, James Ehlers, the executive director of the hosting Lake Champlain International got some disturbing news from the Colchester police department.

“Yesterday morning, I was informed by Colchester Police that Craig Provost of Plattsburgh was cited for fraud, a felony offense, in conjunction with his 2015 entry in the LCI Father’s Day Derby,” Ehlers  said.

“At that time, the fish resulted in a payout of $13,506.87. The entry had taken first place in the Walleye Category and had established a new tournament record. That entry has been disqualified and removed from the standings and removed as a tournament record. Mr. Provost and his two teammates will be suspended from participation in all events organized by Lake Champlain International.”

The news came as fishermen around the lake prepared to head out in search of setting new tournament records or at least catching a fish that might earn them some of the more than $150,000 cash and prizes up for grabs this weekend as part of the 35th annual Lake Champlain International Father’s Day Derby, presented by Yamaha.

Landing a record-setting walleye would normally earn the fisherman or woman who caught it $3,000. But, according to the LCI Derby Guide (published by Vermont Sports), those who bought the “cash extras” bonus options could double their winnings. And a Lake Champlain record fish could bring home $10,000.

Provost had purchased the cash extras. After discovering the 10.26 pound fish had broken a 33-year-old record, he told WCAX  that it was “really, really unbelievable. It’s like God dropped it in my boat.” He added: “I’ve never caught a walleye, never ate a walleye. I really wanted to have it mounted, but obviously I would have lost my team points. It was all about my team, too. I have to give credit to my team.”

As it turns out, it was “unbelievable” and, yes, Provost really should have given credit to his team, a lot of credit as it turns out. According to Ehlers  police were informed that it was actually one of those teammates, one who had not purchased the “cash extras,” who caught the walleye, not Provost.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Sargent Michael Fish (we’re not making this up, that’s his name) was not available for comment. Ehlers is looking to recalibrate last year’s list of winners and reallocate the prize money.

As for Provost, on Friday he wrote on his Facebook page: “Who wants to go out on the boat with me this weekend ??? Looking to b on it all weekend any takers cus I’ll b alone this weekend it looks like lol !!!” 

As for that record-setting walleye, it could still be out there for the catching. And until someone lands it or a bigger fish, the old record still stands.