Fishing Freshwater

Watch: Irate Homeowner Confronts Boys Fishing Private Pond, Snaps Their $200 Rod

"You're on private property, young man. Get outta here!"
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A man snaps a young angler's fishing rod in half.
After threatening the young fishermen, the older man grabbed one of their rods and snapped it in half. via TikTok

A recent TikTok video of an older Tennessee man threatening two young fishermen and breaking one of their fishing rods has the internet in an uproar. The footage has spawned several follow-up videos along with a doxing attempt. It’s the latest (but certainly not the first) example of the borderline violent encounters that sometimes occur between public anglers and private landowners.

TikTok user and fishing content creator @fishn_shi posted the original video on July 3, along with the following caption: “Drunk karen breaks my $200 St. Croix rod.” The user did not respond to a request for comment, so many of the details behind the incident remain unclear.

Fishn_shi recorded the video on his phone, and he can be heard in the background as the older man confronts him and his friend on the shore of a lake in Knoxville. The name of the lake and its ownership are unknown, but fishn_shi wrote in a comment that it’s located in the Admirals Landing neighborhood. Several large suburban homes are visible in the background, and at least two other homeowners were involved in the confrontation.

The older man is already ticked off at the start of the roughly one-minute-long clip. He appears to be intoxicated (and at one point he admits to having a drink earlier). While the two boys film on their phones, he approaches fishn_shi’s buddy, grabs a fishing rod from the boy’s hand, and breaks the rod over his own leg. The man continues to hurl insults as he repeatedly claims the boys are trespassing on the privately-owned neighborhood lake.

Read Next: Watch: Landowner Tells Kayaker There’s No Fishing Allowed on ‘His’ Side of the River

The video is heavily edited, however, and it’s unclear what exactly led to the rod breaking. Because of the original video’s popularity — it’s gotten nearly 19 million views in less than a week — fishn_shi shared additional clips on July 6 and 7. Titled Part 2 and Part 3, the videos show more of the confrontation that ensued.    

In Part 2, two other homeowners accuse the boys of trespassing and lying about their names while the older man keeps trying to run them off. At one point, the elderly woman refers to the rod-breaker as “the president,” presumably of the local homeowner’s association. She says he “has lived here for years” and “knows everyone that lives in here.”

The boys appear to remain calm during the confrontation. But a short segment from Part 3 shows that they weren’t afraid to egg the older man on.

@fishn_shi

Part 3 Of Drunk Karen Matt Webster Breaking My $200 Rod. Also he did not ask us nicely he walked up screaming at us#fishnshi #karen #part3 #mattwebster #stcroix #fishtok #fishermen #viral #fyp #fakesituation #karensinthewild #karenattack

♬ one of wun – Gunna

“You’re right, I had a drink. Is that against the law, dumb shit?” the old man says in Part 3 after one of the boys claims he can smell alcohol on his breath. The boy then says they’ll wait for the police to arrive, and the man says he will, too. He also threatens to snap one of their fishing poles in half if they make one more cast into the lake.   

“No, you’re not. Because the police are gonna press charges on you … We’re showing the police this video and you’re gonna get arrested,” one of the boys says. “I can’t wait to see you walk away in handcuffs.”

The young fisherman then makes a cast, and the old man follows through on his threat. He grabs the fishing rod from the boy’s hand and snaps it over his thigh like a twig.

At several points in the videos, the man threatens to call the police and press charges against the young anglers. The videos don’t show how (or if) the situation was resolved, and it’s unclear if anyone was charged with a crime. However, two self-appointed internet investigators have tried to get to the bottom of the controversy.

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On July 6, TikTok user @TizzyEnt shared a video post analyzing fishn_shi’s videos. He defends the two young fishermen and calls the older man “a drunk, entitled, impetulant [sic] child.” Along with some other social media users who have shared their opinions on various posts, he contends that the boys were not trespassing on the private neighborhood lake — either because they had permission to fish or had family members who lived there.

“I talked to the young man,” says TizzyEnt, who claims that he sent fishn_shi a Bass Pro Shops gift card worth $250 to replace the broken rod. “His parents came and declined to press charges against [the older man]. They could have pressed charges against him because he’s the one who damaged their property and assaulted them.”

In addition to providing commentary, TizzyEnt identifies the older man in the video by calling attention to another follow-up video shared by Danesh, a content creator and YouTuber who identifies people online (also known as doxing). Danesh claims that the older man is a Knoxville resident named Matt Webster who works at United Community Bank and serves as the chairperson of a local Haiti outreach program. He also claims that Webster has since deleted his social media profiles. These claims are unconfirmed.

Regardless, the doxing attempt has fueled a stream of social media-driven vitriol directed at Webster and those surrounding him. It’s also led to cases of mistaken identity as there are at least two men named Matt Webster who live in Knoxville. Earlier today, the national nonprofit organization known as Haiti Outreach wrote in a Facebook post that it has received many hateful messages even though it has no connection with the older man in the video. Meanwhile, a man named Matt Webster who works for United Community Bank in Knoxville has updated his LinkedIn profile to clarify that he is “NOT THE FISHING GUY FROM THE SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO.”