Man Sues Fishing Group Over $1M Prize
(DIAMOND CITY, Ark.) — Talk about one that got away. An Arkansas man who caught a record 68-pound striped bass sued the International Game Fish Association for denying him a $1 million prize in their contest.
Rodney Ply, 41, of Diamond City, Ark., entered the “Hook-a-Million” contest, which offered a $1 million prize for any angler who caught a fish that broke a world record using a Mustad-brand hook. Mustad promoted the contest but is not named as a defendant.
Ply said he is not a professional fisherman and didn’t want “to go legal.”
“They just left me no choice,” he said.
“I love to fish,” he said. “I’m just an everyday fisherman.” The biggest prize Ply previously received in another tournament was $2,000. Ply owns North Arkansas Concrete and is an Army veteran.
“I’m just lucky and fortunate to catch a fish that broke a world record,” he said.
On Feb. 18, 2012, Ply caught the striped bass, one of the contest’s eligible species, according to his complaint filed last month. However, in October, the International Game Fish Association’s executive committee “denied certification of the fish, enigmatically classifying the lure plaintiff used as an illegal spreader bar,” the lawsuit states.
A spokesman for the association declined to comment to ABC News.
Ply said he did not use a spreader bar, but instead used a homemade spinnerbait lure, which typically has a blade-shaped object to spin like a propeller. He said his homemade object ”cannot reasonably or in good faith be classified as a spreader bar,” according to the lawsuit.
Ply claims he followed the contest’s rules and sent photos of the fish hanging from an approved scale, the lure that he made, his rod and reel, and the 68-pound fish.
John White, owner of Fisherman’s Outfitter in Gloucester, Mass., who is not involved in this lawsuit, said a spreader bar emulates a school of fish.
White said spinnerbait lures are usually much larger than spreader bars. One example of spreader bar that White makes and sells is 48-inches wide with multiple lures attached to it.
Spreader bars are typically a bar with a lure attached to it, in various configurations. Only one lure typically has the hook in it, White said.
Eric Rudenberg of Rudenberg and Glasser, the law firm representing Ply, said he expects the association will be served with the lawsuit in the coming days. The association then has 20 days to respond.
“This is a typical David and Goliath story,” Rudenberg said.
“Mr. Ply is your average hardworking decorated veteran who was invited to compete in a competition and as an avid angler he was excited about fulfilling any fisherman’s dream, which is to catch a world record fish,” said Michael Glasser, law firm partner with Rudenberg. ”He followed all the rules and he was blessed and gifted enough to succeed at something that everyone dreams of and all he wants is what was promised to him.”
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