Lie detectors put fishermens' tales to the test

Published online: Aug 18, 2010 News Lee Tolliver - The Virginian-Pilot
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When hundreds of thousands - sometimes millions - of dollars are on the line, nobody wants to hear the adage about how fishermen tell lies.

So tournament directors across the country use polygraphs to keep things on the up and up.

Yep - lie detector tests for fishermen.

The practice received national attention in June when the winning boat in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament was disqualified after it was discovered during a polygraph that the team's mate did not have a required state license.

An angler on the boat Citation caught a tournament-record blue marlin that day. The 883-pound fish was worth a little more than $1.2 million.

But the disqualification took all that away. The outcome now will be settled in court.

Nearly a dozen big-money offshore tournaments have been held since. And the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament starts Wednesday out of Rudee Inlet.

Polygraph tests costing between $150 and $600 are used in all of them, almost always without incident. They've become a necessary tool to keep the playing waters fair.

"Oh... you have to have polygraphs," said Jim Tobin, tournament director of the Pirate's Cove Billfish Tournament, which concluded last weekend. "With this much money involved, it's the final layer of protection."

On Saturday night, hours before the checks are handed out, several members of winning teams will be strapped up with electrodes and asked a series of questions.

Hopefully, nothing will smell fishy.


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