Download a copy of the rules here
TOURNAMENT PARTICIPATION AND REGISTRATION: Participation in any federation event is open to all members of the organization. Each participant is required to fill out and sign an application for each tournament. Each boater will be required to show proof of their boat insurance (minimum $300,000 liability) prior to fishing their first tournament of the year.
TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS: For all tournaments (trail events) there will be a random pairing of the contestants by the tournament committee. Clubs who wish to fish as a club event may pair within the club, if 50% or more of the club is fishing. Contestants will only be allowed to fish together two (2) times during a tournament year. In each event the tournament committee will designate two or three boats as “open boats”. These two boats will be left open (no non-boater) in case of emergency so that no non-boater is left on the shore. These boats will be picked at random and not more than one time during the tournament year. These rules do not apply to any “Open” style event unless specified by the tournament director.
BOAT EQUIPMENT: All boats must be in full compliance with state laws and Coast Guard regulations. All boats must have working kill switches (which must be worn at all times when the internal combustion motor is running). All boats must have a working mechanically aerated live well capable of holding and sustaining two limits of fish (Bass). Boats must be large enough to be safe and comfortable for two anglers and their equipment (as determined by the Tournament Director and committee). All boats must be equipped with a seat for the non-boater partner.
SAFETY AND SPORTSMANSHIP: Life jackets shall be worn by both competitors at all times when the internal combustion motor is running. The “kill switch” shall be affixed to the driver at all times when the internal combustion motor is running. All competitors shall comply with state laws (speeding etc.) at all times. When boating and fishing near other boats and people, maximum courtesy should be extended to all. Anglers in the same boat shall not fish or handle the boat in a method which will put the other angler at a disadvantage. Use of alcohol or illegal drugs during tournament competition hours, will result in immediate disqualification. Drunkenness and unsportsmanlike conduct at any tournament will be cause for disqualification and may result in disqualification from future tournaments (As determined by Tournament director, tournament committee and Board of Directors).
TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT: All fishing shall be with artificial baits only. Prepared baits (real shiners, crayfish etc.) shall not be allowed. Rods over 8 foot (96”) long are not allowed. Spinning, Bait-casting and Spin-casting are all allowable fishing techniques. Fly fishing is not! Fishermen are allowed to have a number of rods rigged and available for use but only one “wet-line” is allowed. Trolling (hands free fishing using only a motor to move the bait) is not allowed in any tournament. All fish must be caught in a legal sporting manner. While the presence of communication devices is recommended (for emergency purposes), they are not to be used to converse with other competitors except for emergencies, as deemed by the Tournament Director and committee.
PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS: Fishing is allowed anywhere on the tournament lake (where legal), except within 50 feet of another competitor who’s trolling motor is up and who is anchored in position. Anglers who feel that another boat is encroaching on the 50 foot rule must warn the offending anglers at that time. Anglers who allow one other person (within the tournament) to fish within the 50 foot zone are then obligated to allow any other boat or angler the same courtesy. No angler or boat may stop others from passing on otherwise navigable waters. Anglers may not leave the boat for the purpose of catching a fish, or fishing an area which is otherwise inaccessible by boat. Leaving the boat for dire circumstances (as determined by the Tournament Director and committee) is acceptable, but whenever possible the anglers should remain within sight of each other. All tournament boats must remain on the tournament water throughout the tournament day and all contestants must depart from and return to the check in point by boat (no trailering from other launch sites).
BOAT IDENTIFICATION AND CHECKPOINTS: Prior to the start of each tournament, there will be a check in for the contestants. At this point contestants will learn who their partners are (if they don’t already know) and one contestant from each boat will draw a boat number (blind draw). These boat numbers are to remain with the boat throughout the day. All boats shall be in the water 30 minutes prior to the start of the tournament. Any boater who chooses to block the line and not launch their boat promptly will be sent to the back of the line - if the boater fails to comply he (she) will be disqualified and the entry fee will not be reimbursed. Boats will line up on the water and leave the launch site in numerical order. The first two boats and the last boat to leave will be Tournament Committee boats (the first two will be required to return to the ramp 15 minutes early to start the weigh in procedures). At the end of the day all boats must check in with the tournament committee, (regardless of whether they caught any fish) and return their boat number (more than anything else this a safety issue to make sure that no boats are left on the water, so full compliance is required). In the event that a boat has to leave the water prior to the end of the tournament day, contestants are required to notify another tournament angler or tournament official of their intent and return the boat number. It is the responsibility of the non-boating partner to remain with and help the boater at the end of the day until the boat is safely on the trailer and tied down (this does not apply if the boater chooses to launch at a different site and drive the boat to the tournament launch.) Failure of the non-boater to comply with this rule may result in disqualification from the current and future tournaments!!
SCORING AND PENALTIES: Tournament standings and final winners shall be determined by the weight of each anglers catch. Only Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass in compliance with state size limits may be weighed in. Any angler may request a “courtesy measure” to check a fishes compliance with size regulations and there will be no penalty (other than the loss of the questionable fish if it is short), however if an angler tries to weigh in a short fish the total catch will be disqualified. There will be a five fish limit for each angler (unless otherwise stated by the Tournament Director and committee prior to the start of the tournament). In the event that an angler has more than the prescribed limit in possession at time of weigh in, the Tournament Director and committee will disqualify that days catch. Any fish which appears to have been mangled, crushed or otherwise altered to give the appearance of being longer than 12 inches will be credited only at the discretion of the tournament committee. Any fish presented for weigh in which is dead or cannot be completely revived with a reasonable effort shall receive a 8 ounce deduction as a “dead fish” penalty. All fish weighed in by any angler must be caught during the specified tournament hours on the specified tournament waters by the specified angler - any deviation from the above shall result in immediate disqualification and removal from the organization. Any angler who returns to the weigh in site late shall receive a penalty of 1 pound for each minute that they are late. Anglers who are fifteen or more minutes late will have their total catch disqualified. Anglers weighing fish must return to the weigh-in site together. They may transfer their fish to another boat, provided the catches are clearly marked and both anglers accompany their catches in the other boat. Only live fish can be weighed in to qualify for the lunker award. In the event of a tie between two or more contestants, the winner will be determined by: 1. Total number of fish. 2. Big fish. 3. Coin flip.
Practice Periods and off Limits: Tournament waters are open for practice any time up until the Wednesday at midnight, before a Sunday Tournament. Tuesday at Midnight for Saturday tournaments. If any Boater, or non boater is found practicing after this period the Angler will not be allowed to fish any tournaments for the remainder of that season, or whatever the board and committee choose.
PROTESTS: All protests must be filed (in writing) with the Tournament Director prior to the closing of the scales. When a protest is filed the Tournament Director will choose a minimum of three (3) uninvolved people (without ties to any of the parties concerned). These people will then listen to all sides of the story and make a determination as to the outcome.
Insurance Requirements: During the official practice and competition days of any TBF event no contestant may operate a boat unless that contestant has documented proof of an insurance policy in force, that cover the event dates with a minimum of $300,000 boating liability coverage on that particular boat. Proof of insurance ,must be with the boat being used and must cover the competitor using that boat, random checks will be conducted. Each policy must show $300,000.00 Liability and a valid expiration date.