I am not really sure if I even have a dog in this fight. On the one hand I have and do fish bass tournaments, but on the other hand I never have been very serious about it in terms of monetary investment and probably never will get to that point, so basically there is no chance that I have or will get swindled personally. Whether I have a dog or not here are my thoughts.
I think this guy Mike Hart as a bass fisherman is the worst kind of cheater you can get and is total scum for it. Not only was he into ripping off people but he did it in such a way that I think was harmful and cruel to the fish. And while I don't know the science, I would suspect stuffing ounces of lead into the bellies of bass who could possibly go on to survive for long periods of time with the lead in their belly after the deed would create a lead poisoning risk for humans who might eat the fish. I hope he gets charged for environmental damages beyond the obvious fraud involved.
My second thought on the matter is that I am pretty sure this was not the first time he has commited the fraud. Those weights looked to be specifically made for the purpose by which they were used and the system was so slick that a the Co-Angler in the boat wouldn't and didn't even notice anything suspicious. On bass fishing message boards I have seen it documented that this guy has won thousands upon thousands of dollars in tournaments over the past several years and from what I understand he has been a highly successful tournament fisherman for more than a decade. I think all of that "success" gets called into question. I think he needs to come clean about the scope of his cheating and should at a minimum pay back entry fees of all the anglers he has defrauded over the years. Short of that I hope there is enough grounds and legal standing for civil liability to force the issue if he isn't forthcoming.
My final thought is that Mike Hart seems to have been a very very good fishermen seemingly without "the need" to cheat to do well for himself. The cheating on top of that, however, would often be enough to push him over the top from an OK finish, right into where the big money comes into play because of the way tournament dollars are allocated in a top heavy manor. This gets us back to my second point in that I think he owes a lot of people their money back. I don't know Mike Hart's financial situation but I hope he can afford to be "generous" in his contrition. If not, bankruptcy isn't too large a price. You have to feel for his wife and family, but that is true for all innocent familial relations of criminals.