ALTON, Ill. – The popularity of fishing has exploded in recent years. One recent tournament in Ohio has even led to criminal charges.

“You don’t need to cheat,” said Marshall Hyde, an Edwardsville resident. “You can come out the next day. There will be another tournament.”    

Hyde was buying some bait at Bluff City Outdoors in Alton. The business is holding a fishing tournament this weekend.

“This is a great tournament to get your feet wet,” said Will Ash, a store employee.  

Ash said the annual tournament includes prizes and has grown over the years. He said the competition is not an intimidating event. 

“You’ll see some of the higher-end guys and some lower-end guys, but at least everybody gets to fish,” he said. 

Ash said the cheating scandal in Ohio has been a hot topic of conversation. Ash hopes there is enough honesty within the fishing community to help keep cheaters in check. There is also hope that the recent actions taken in response to the scandal will help reduce the incentive for cheating. 

“They’re going to be known as the cheaters for the rest of their lives,” said Rickey Carriker, Wood River resident, and fishing enthusiast.    

Derrick Henderson was fishing near the Clark Bridge on Thursday. The Dellwood resident subscribes to the popular notion that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. He said anyone cheating in a fishing tournament is losing out on the most valuable part of casting a line. 

“It’s the joy of getting out there,” Henderson said.