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American Bass Anglers, Inc.
American Fishing Tour 2014 Season Rules

Effective: 11/25/2013

RULE CHANGES: The following rules shall apply to American Bass Anglers, Inc. American Fishing Tour tournaments, with the following exceptions: (i) rules for special tournaments may differ from those contained herein and (ii) these rules may be changed by American Bass Anglers at any time upon notice by American Bass Anglers to its members, which notice may be published on the American Bass Anglers internet site at

1. Interpretation of these rules shall be left exclusively to the tournament director. In the event of a rule violation, the tournament director and/or American Bass Anglers, Inc. Headquarters may impose such sanctions, as deemed appropriate, including but not limited to, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes, forfeiture of entry fee and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments.  The decision of the tournament director/ABA Headquarters shall be final in all matters.  Protests for any rule infraction must be made in writing within 15 minutes of the official announcement, “the scales are now closed”.

a. Each contestant agrees to report any tournament rule infraction to the tournament director.
b. Failure to report rules infractions to the tournament director or false reporting of tournament rules infractions will be cause for disqualification.
c. Rules infractions will result in penalties that may include but not limited to:

(1) Loss of weight for the day of the rules infraction.
(2) Disqualification from the event.
(3) Disqualification from future American Bass Anglers, Inc., events for a period of time up to a lifetime disqualification.

a. Members that participate in American Bass Anglers, Inc., events will at all times observe the Competitor's Conduct Code and all applicable tournament/conduct rules for the tournament/event in which they are participating.  All Contestants shall conduct themselves professionally at all times and their actions may not reflect unfavorably on the sport of bass fishing, American Bass Anglers, Inc., its members or affiliates, officers or representatives, tournaments or sponsors (see rule 12).
b. All competitors will in their best efforts provide a high degree of professionalism, integrity and conservation in the sport of professional angling.  Any Competitor who violates any of the Competitor's Conduct Code may be penalized which may include: fines, disqualification from events, forfeiture of winnings, and suspension or non-acceptance of entries from ABA events to include permanent suspension.  American Bass Anglers, Inc. may use these actions singularly or in combination as deemed appropriate.

a. Participation is open to current members of American Bass Anglers, Inc., who are 14 years of age or older.  Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the competitor.
b. Competitors must have a valid fishing license for the body of water the event is being held on.
c. During official practice and competition days of an ABA tournament, no competitor may operate a boat unless that contestant has current documented proof of a minimum of $100,000 boating liability insurance on the boat being used.  Proof of insurance must be with the boat being used and must cover the competitor using the boat.  Random checks will be conducted.  .
d. Anglers must sign the Release of Liability form at the event and if not pre-registered with headquarters must present their entry fee to the tournament director prior to the tournament. Tournament officials reserve the right to refund any membership and/or entry fee, if they shall choose for any reason not to accept the application for entrance.
e. Any person entering a tournament that is under 18 years of age must have the signature of his/her parent or legal guardian on the Liability Release form.

By signing the official entry form contestants agree to submit to a polygraph/voice test examination should he/she be accused of any rule violation.  ABA may also conduct random polygraph/voice test examination throughout the year.  Any person convicted of violating tournament rules or failing to successfully pass a polygraph/voice test in this or any other tournament will not be allowed membership or entry into any American Bass Anglers, Inc., events.  The administration and interpretation of the polygraph/voice test shall be solely the responsibility of the American Bass Anglers, Inc., its tournament Directors or agents, and shall be used (or not used) at their discretion.  Without limiting the foregoing, the American Bass Anglers, Inc. shall have sole discretion to select the place at which such polygraph/voice test shall be administered, the individual who administers such polygraph/voice test, and the scope of the questions, which may be asked during such test.  Failure to take and pass the polygraph/voice test examination, if required, will result in immediate disqualification without recourse.  At the National Championship up to 25 boater places will be administered a polygraph/voice test, information will be posted on or about September 1. 

Individuals who have fished two or more tournaments as a designated Professional in a Pro/Am event requiring an individual entry fee of $675 or more in the preceding six months are not eligible to fish.  This rule does not apply to Amateur status anglers.

Individuals who are serving as a licensed guide on tournament waters or are paid for guiding on tournament waters within the previous 30 day period are not eligible to compete in American Bass Anglers, Inc., events on that lake(s).

There will be no official practice period (Except for National Championship or special events) prior to the pre-tournament meeting.  No contestant may enter the tournament water for the purpose of catching or locating possible fishing locations after day one weigh-in in multiple day tournaments.  Off-limits areas not covered in Rule 18, will be designated and explained at pre-tournament meeting by the tournament director.

It is recommended that contestants pre-register through National headquarters. Contestant desiring to register at the ramp must do so in person during the official registration period.  Registration period is defined as 1 and ½ hours preceding 5am local time during daylight savings time and 6am local time during standard time or the time established by the local tournament director.  Once the Safety and Rules briefing begins no tournament entries can be accepted. Failure to attend the pre-tournament meeting of any American Bass Anglers, Inc., tournament will result in forfeiture of entry fee and disqualification from the tournament in question.

Entry fee for Divisional Qualifying events will be $70.00 which includes big bass.  Entry Fee for Divisional Championships will be $140.00, which includes big bass.  The entry fee for the National Championship is $170.00 for boaters and $150.00 for non-boaters, this does not include big bass.  

All mail in entries must be postmarked or called-in to headquarters with a charge card 10 days prior to the scheduled tournament. Divisional Qualifying Events and Divisional Championship entries not meeting this deadline will be subject to a $5.00 late fee (see Rule 9 for National Championship Late Fee).  All pre-registrations must be sent to the Athens office only, except where noted on schedule.  New or renewing members signing up at the tournament, active duty military members, life members, visiting directors, assistant director for that division, and 2013 frequent fishermen anglers are not subject to the late fee for Divisional Qualifying Events and Divisional Championship tournaments ONLY.

a. Contestants understand that participating in fishing tournaments in an open boat is inherently dangerous. Safe boating conduct will be observed at all times.
b. During the official practice and competition, each competitor is required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved chest-type life preserver (PFD).  This preserver must be worn any time the combustion engine is in gear.  This preserver must be strapped, snapped or zippered securely and maintained in that condition until the combustion engine is no longer in gear.
c. The boat operator must have a safety-stop switch attached to his/her person when the combustion engine is in gear.  During practice and tournament hours extreme caution must be exercised by boat operator during bad weather.
d. In addition, extreme caution must be exercised and boat operator must be aware that there could be large cruisers and/or barges operating on tournament waters that displace extremely large volumes of water, which create unusually large wakes and turbulence.
e. Weather and water turbulence can be extremely hazardous and extreme caution should be exercised at all times.  Violation of either the PFD or safety-stop switch portion of this rule will result in disqualification.

a. Members that participate in American Bass Anglers, Inc., events will at all times observe the Competitor's Conduct Code and all applicable tournament/conduct rules for the tournament/event in which they are participating.  All Contestants shall conduct themselves professionally at all times and their actions may not reflect unfavorably on the sport of bass fishing, American Bass Anglers, Inc., its members or affiliates, officers or representatives, tournaments or sponsors (see rule 12).
b. All contestants must adhere to all State, Federal and local laws governing water activities.  Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification.

c. No alcoholic beverages or other stimulants or depressants, shall be allowed in the boats during the official practice or competition days, or when in the weigh-in area.  Any alteration of fish or paperwork will constitute a violation of rules and members may be disqualified and/or suspended from fishing future event.

d. Each contestant must keep the waters clean and bring trash back to the dock for disposal.
e. Chemical substance addiction or abuse, conviction of
a felony not specifically exempted by ABA or other crimes involving immoral turpitude, or other conduct reflecting unfavorable upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, fair competition, and compliance with tournament rules shall be grounds for rejecting applications for membership, participation and for disqualification.
f. Any disqualification or suspension from, or other disciplinary action regarding any tournament or fishing organization, shall be grounds for rejecting any application for membership, participation and for disqualification.

  13. MEDIA COMMENTS, PUBLIC ATTACKS; The favorable public reputation of ABA as a sanctioning organization in the sport of fishing, the integrity of its officials, and the reputation of its media properties are valuable assets and tangible benefits for ABA.  Accordingly, it is an obligation of competitors to refrain from comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage the integrity of tournaments, tournament officials, sponsors, fellow members, fellow anglers or the ABA organization.  Competitors are encouraged to express themselves and have the right to question the rules officials.  Responsible expressions of legitimate disagreement with ABA policies are encouraged as opposed to attacks upon the integrity of the rules or officials. However, public comments that an angler knows, or should reasonably know, will harm the reputation of ABA, its officials or sponsors shall be considered conduct unbecoming an angler and will result in disciplinary action.

Only artificial lures may be used. No "live bait" or "prepared bait" will be permitted during official practice and competition, with the exception of pork strips, rinds, etc.  Only one rod and reel combination may be used at one time.  No fly rods or rods over 8 feet are allowed. Trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited.  All bass must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner.  All angling must be done from the boat and anglers must stay on tournament waters during tournament hours.  Anglers are not permitted to leave the boat to land a fish or leave the boat to gain access to secluded waters.  Competitors must leave and return to official checkpoint by boat.  Both competitors must remain in boat at all times except in case of dire emergency.  In such an emergency, competitors may be removed from their boat to: 1) a boat operated by another competitor, 2) a rescue boat designated by the tournament director.  MECHANICAL BREAKDOWN; In the event of a mechanical breakdown one or both anglers may board another competitors boat only and ride to the weigh-in with their catch (if one angler brings both catches to weigh-in, fish must be clearly marked).  In the event boater is alone he may have another competitor only bring his catch to weigh-in.  Mechanical Breakdown does not extend tournament time.

MAXIMUM HORSEPOWER FOR ALL OUTBOARD MOTORBOATS USED IN OFFICIAL TOURNAMENT PRACTICE AND IN TOURNAMENT COMPETITION WILL BE 250 HP. Horsepower cannot exceed the limitations set by the U.S. Coast Guard.  It is required that all boats have a U.S. Coast Guard or Manufacturer's horsepower-rating plate attached to the boat by the manufacturer.  The horsepower of the outboard engine must not exceed the rating specified on this plate nor the horsepower maximum set by American Bass Anglers.  Each competitor agrees to submit, by their signature on the official entry form, the boat and outboard motor used in the tournament, to an inspection by factory-trained personnel, if there is any reason to suspect the horsepower is in excess of the rating.  Changing or altering standard factory parts of your engine to increase the horsepower over the factory horsepower rating is forbidden, and will result in disqualification.  Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower-rating numbers on the engine also would be cause for immediate disqualification from American Bass Anglers, Inc., tournaments.

ALL BOATS MUST BE EQUIPPED WITH SOME TYPE OF IGNITION STOP SWITCH. This ignition-kill device must be attached to the driver's body any time the combustion engine is in gear.  Any time the combustion engine is operating and in gear, there must by a driver in the driver's seat in full control of the boat.  Fishing boats less than 16 feet in length may not be used.  No barges, cumbersome craft or boats without steering wheel will be permitted.  Contestants may not use boats equipped with "stick steering" during official practice or during tournament hours.  Each boat must also have a properly aerated or re-circulating live-well to maintain a live limit catch of bass by both contestants.  Boaters are required to provide a back fishing seat for co-anglers.

Any competitor answering yes to the question: "Will you enter as a boater?" will be expected to make that boat available for the tournament.  Partners must discuss sharing time for his/her selected waters prior to ooze-off.  Each partner is entitled to an equal number of hours to fish his/her selected waters during divisional and national qualifying events.  Any contestant who, in the judgment of the tournament director, operates the boat in such a manner as to unfairly handicap their partner shall be disqualified.  It is the responsibility of the non-boater to reimburse the boater in an amount mutually agreed.  It is suggested that reimbursement be ½ of fuel cost to defray daily expenses (Based on current fuel prices and running time, cost could be from $30.00 to $50.00).  Non-boater not paying their share as prescribed here and at the time of the event shall be cause for being disqualified.  This penalty is not limited to the same event but may also result in entries not being accepted into future American Bass Anglers events.

Tournament Director for each tournament shall establish Tournament waters at the tournament briefing and define any known OFF-LIMITS areas including locking from established tournament waters.  Fishing on tournament waters is not permitted: within 50 yards of a marina gas pump.  Any water within tournament boundaries posted Off-Limits or No Fishing by state or federal agencies will be OFF-LIMITS.

There will be only one official point for check-out in the morning and check-in in the afternoon, as designated by the tournament director.  Competitors not at the checkpoint at the designated time will be penalized at the rate of 1 pound per minute, deducted from their total weight for the day.  Any competitor more than 15 minutes late for send-off or check-in will be disqualified for the day.  Official start and weigh-in times will be announced at the pre-tournament meeting.  Our best effort will be given to allow at least 8 hours fishing time.  In the case of adverse weather conditions, the tournament director will open weigh-in at 12 noon for safety.

The total weight of each competitors catch will determine tournament standings and placement. Only largemouth, spotted, red eye or smallmouth bass will be weighed.  The creel limit shall be five (5) unless the prevailing state/lake limit is less (The tournament director may impose a creel limit of less than five fish if they deem weather and/or local conditions warrant the reduction).  At no time shall a competitor have in his/her possession more than the tournament limit.  Culling must be done immediately upon catching a sixth fish. CULLING OF DEAD FISH IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.  Minimum length will be 12 inches (measured on a flat board) unless the prevailing state/lake rule is larger.  In most cases the state's longest length limit will be used.  A penalty of 1 pound will be deducted from the total weight for each short fish and a penalty of eight (8) ounces or (.50) pounds will be deducted from the total weight for each dead fish.  In the event the anglers' big fish is dead a penalty of eight (8) ounces or (.50) pounds will be deducted from the big fish weight.  A contestant that presents more fish than the tournament limit will be disqualified immediately.  Mangled, mashed, mauled or otherwise altered fish will be weighed only at the discretion of the tournament director.  No regurgitated baitfish will be weighed. Fish will not be put on a stringer at any time.  All fish presented at the weigh-in become the property of American Bass Anglers.  All live fish will be returned to the tournament waters and the tournament director will dispose of any dead fish.

Assignments of partners will be by open draw.  All angling must be accomplished from the boat.  Competitors must stay on tournament waters and in sight of each other throughout the tournament day from send-off until weigh-in (Exception: Nature call).  Any contestant refusing to take or go with another contestant in his/her boat will be subject to immediate disqualification.  Tournament directors have no responsibility for finding lost partners.  Each contestant is to meet his/her partner at least 30 minutes prior to take-off.  The tournament director may reassign pairings prior to morning ooze-off to accommodate problems or emergencies.  With prior approval from American Bass Anglers, headquarters, the tournament director may allow paired boaters to fish alone.

22. TIE:
In case of a tie, ties will be broken using the following criteria:

  • 1st - Most number of legal live fish weighed
  • 2nd - Most number of legal fish weighed
  • 3rd - Largest big fish weighed

Angler of the Year Tie Breaker – in the event there is a tie for 1st place points, Director will ask each angler if they want to do a fish-off.  If anglers do not consent to a fish-off, Angler of the Year will be determined by using the following criteria:

  • 1st - Most Weight for the year
  • 2nd - Most number of legal live fish weighed for the year
  • 3rd - Largest big fish weighed for the year

If the tie is not broken by applying the foregoing procedures, place monies will be combined and split evenly, and place points will be awarded accordingly.

Merchandize prizes will be awarded as determined by the tournament director.  Standings will reflect ties starting at place closest to first. The tournament director may decide to break first place ties with a fish-off.

Entry fees may be transferred or refunded only if proper notification is made to American Bass Anglers, headquarters or tournament director by 12 noon on the Friday preceding the tournament.  Refunds will be assessed a 10% service charge however, there is no fee for transfers.  Refunds for National Championship will only be accepted up to 10 days prior to official practice.

One-day divisional qualifying tournaments are worth 200 points.  Maximum points are awarded for a minimum of 20 contestants.  For tournaments with less than 20 contestants, 1 point per person short of the minimum will be deducted from the total points available.  Points will be awarded in 1 point decrements depending on place of finish.  No contestant weighing a fish in the tournament will receive less than 75 points regardless of place of finish.  All contestants not weighing fish will receive 50 show points.  A contestant may fish multiple one-day tournaments for point accumulation, but only the best four tournaments will be counted.  The 2-day

Divisional Championships are worth 400 points. Maximum points are awarded for a minimum of 20 contestants.  Points will be awarded in 2 point decrements depending on place of finish.  For tournaments with less than 20 contestants, 2 points per person short of minimum will be deducted from the total points available.  No contestant weighing a fish in the tournament will receive less than 150 points, and 100 points will be awarded to those not weighing fish.  A contestant may fish multiple 2-day Divisional Championships, however only their best two-day finish will be counted.  Contestants who are more than 15 minutes late for weigh-in, will not be allowed to weigh their fish, but will receive show points for the event.  Contestants must have fished at least four (4) one day tournaments to be eligible to compete in the 2-day Divisional Championship.  A perfect score is 1200 points: 4 one-day tournaments at 200 points each = 800 plus and 1 two-day Divisional Championship at 400 points.  The National Championship is worth 2000 points to the winner.  Points will be awarded in 5 point decreasing increments depending on place of finish.

  25. National Championship:
The top 500 national point holders plus 30 Active Duty Military will be invited to compete in the National Championship.  If one or more of the top 500 do not accept the invitation, the remaining slots will be filled from a list of qualified anglers by points.  Contestants must meet the minimum qualification requirements which is; the successful completion of four (4) one-day tournaments and one two-day tournament within their division.  Changes in the 2014 format for the Championship are:

a. There will be three winning positions in the National Championship, one for the overall winner of the event, one for the highest placing non-boater and one for Angler of the Year.
b. The top 250 anglers by points will have the opportunity to register as a boater and be guaranteed use of their boat. If one or more of the top 250 do not accept the invitation, the remaining slots will be filled from a list of qualified and pre-registered anglers by points. The top 250 boaters may or may not have a partner during the event. In the event a boater draws a non-boater, Rule 17 applies, including the non-boater being entitled to an equal number of hours to fish his/her selected waters. 
c. ABA will take registrations for non-boaters slots from qualified anglers by points, until all 250 boater slots have been filled. Those anglers registering as a non-boater will be paired with a boater and be entitled to their equal number of hours to fish his/her selected waters, see Rule 17. 
d. Divisional Anglers of the Year will compete within the National Championship tournament event. 

No angler will be allowed to win more than one boat in any calendar year. The Championship lake will be off limits approximately 15 days prior to the first official practice day. All tournament information pertaining to the Championship will be published on the ABA web site NLT September 1, 2014.




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