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Fishermen say lie-detector test keeps Winni Derby honest

MEREDITH - The introduction of a polygraph machine to verify the honesty of the winner of this year's Winni Derby salmon contest was a good idea, participants in the derby said Saturday.

"It's a good thing because it makes sure the whole thing is fair," said Wally Ryan of Canterbury.

By instituting the polygraph test, the Laconia Rotary Club Winni Derby Committee was only enforcing Rule 15, which has been part of the formal contest rules for more than a decade but has not been used in the past, said Diane LaBrie, derby chairman.

Polygraphs have been used to determine fishing derby winners for decades in other states, particularly in Southern states for bass competitions. The Rotarians decided to enforce the rule this year because of rumors that at least one past derby-winning salmon was not caught on Winnipesaukee.

"I don't know that we've ever had someone cheat, but people have been very concerned about the rumors, and they seem to be strong rumors," LaBrie said.

Anglers bringing in fish this weekend have been talking about the newly enforced polygraph rule, she said.

"But all the feedback has been positive,'' she said. "Everyone understands that we're just trying to protect the integrity of the derby."

At the Meredith town docks, several fishermen said they liked the idea of polygraph testing.

New Hampshire Fish and Game fisheries biologist John Viar said he has witnessed several fishing derbies that use polygraph tests.

"It's not uncommon at all," he said. "It's just the first time they've used it here."


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