Two men, accused of stuffing lead weights into fish to try to win the $28,000 (£24,000) top prize in a lucrative US tournament, have denied cheating.
The allegations surfaced last month at the contest on Lake Erie to catch walleye – a type of pike.
The tournament director Jason Fischer became suspicious because fish caught by Jacob Runyan, from Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, of Pennsylvania, were significantly heavier than walleye of that length typically are.
An angry crowd at Gordon Park in Cleveland on 30 September watched Mr Fischer cut the walleye open and announce there were weights and fish fillets stuffed inside them.
Their ‘winning’ catches were confiscated by an officer from the Ohio department of natural resources as evidence.
Mr Runyan and Mr Cominsky were charged earlier this month, accused of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and misdemeanour charges of unlawfully owning wild animals.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges before a Cleveland court on Wednesday and were released on bail of $2,500 (£2,150).
The first prize in the tournament totalled around $28,000.