Bass Pro Shops Team Trail Rules
American Bass Anglers
Effective January 1, 2019(updated 1/15/19)
The following rules shall apply to the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Team Trail tournaments operated by American Bass Anglers. These rules may be changed at any time. Rule changes will be effective immediately upon notice by ABA to its members; which notice may be published on the ABA web site at www.americanbassanglers.com Interpretation and enforcement of these rules shall be left exclusively to the Tournament Director or his/her designee at a tournament. The decision of the tournament director will be final in all matters. Each competitor agrees to immediately report to the Tournament Director any violation or infraction of any Tournament Rules. Failure to report violations or suggestions to another competitor that they violated these rules will be cause for disqualification. All protests must be reported to the Tournament Director on site and in writing within 15 minutes after the announcement “the scales are closed”.
Penalties: In the event of a rule(s) violation, ABA will impose such sanctions, as deemed appropriate, including, but are not limited to the following:
(a) Loss of fish in question.
(b) Loss of catch for the day
(c) Disqualification from the tournament in question
(d) Disqualification from future ABA events, which may be from a specific number of events, a specific period of time, or may be a lifetime disqualification.
(e) Any different or additional penalties determined by the Tournament Director including but not limited to monetary fines, probation and/or loss of Angler of the Year points.
Participation and Eligibility: Participation is open to current members of American Bass Anglers. Any minor entering an event under the age of 18 years must be paired with a parent or legal guardian and have the signature of his or her parent or legal guardian in the provided space on the official entry form. American Bass Anglers and/or Tournament Director reserves the right to refuse membership and tournament registration to any individual or team.
Excluded Participation: Contestants who currently compete or have competed as a Professional in a B.A.S.S. Elite, MLF or FLW Tour event within the last 12 months are excluded from participation.
Federal, State and Local Laws: All teams must have a valid fishing license for tournament waters and are required to obey all federal, state and local laws and regulations.
Teams: A team consists of two (2) anglers, one of which must be designated as the “Captain.” A team may substitute an alternate partner during the year for one one-day qualifying event and retain points earned. At time of registration one of team member must be declared Captain for the 2019 season. Should a break up of a team occur, all points earned will stay with the designated Captain, no exceptions. Substitutes are not allowed at the Championship.
Registration: 200 teams will be considered a full field in divisional qualifiers and registration will be closed when 250 teams have registered for an event. The entry for each event is $250 per team. Those teams who paid a deposit must pay entry fee balance prior to COB Wednesday before the event. Requests for refunds or transfers will only be accepted prior to COB Wednesday before the event and will be assessed a $25 processing fee. After COB Wednesday no refunds or transfers will be given. Boat numbers will be assigned by date/time of registration.
Deposits for Events: As a courtesy, anglers may secure their position in events by registering and paying a non-refundable deposit of $100 per event ($500 total) for all five events in a division. The balance of entry fee for each event ($150) is payable prior to COB Wednesday before the scheduled event.
On-Site Check in and Meeting: Onsite check-in will be from 4:30 to 6:00 pm the evening before each event. It is mandatory that one member of each team register in person at the designated site during onsite registration and be present for the Rules and Safety briefing. Exceptions: Those teams holding an Team Meeting Pass (See below).
- Tournament meeting will be at 6:30pm the day before the event.
- ABA Team Meeting Pass: Anglers holding a Team Meeting Pass and cannot attend tournament registration and/or briefing must call the Tournament Director prior to 4:00pm local time the day of registration to check in. Failure to call will result in the team being withdrawn from competition and forfeiture of entry fee. A Team Meeting Pass may be purchased prior to the event or on site for $50 annually. Team Meeting Pass covers events from January – December of the calendar year purchased.
Insurance: During official practice and competition days, competitors may not operate a boat unless that contestant has current documented proof of a minimum of $100,000 boating liability insurance covering the boat being used. A copy of proof of insurance must be with the boat being used and must cover the competitors using that boat. Random checks may be conducted at tournament registration and/or at tournament weigh-in. Any competitor not in compliance will be disqualified.
Safety: Safety is paramount, and anglers must recognize that; fishing from an open boat in itself is inherently dangerous, and as a result American Bass Anglers seeks to limit those hazards with reasonable safety rules.
- Safe boating conduct must be observed at all times by all teams. During the official practice and competition, each team member must wear a US Coast Guard-approved chest-type life preserver. This life preserver must be worn at any time the combustion engine is in gear. This life preserver must also be strapped, snapped or zippered securely and maintained in that condition until the combustion engine is no longer in gear. Violation of this rule shall result in immediate disqualification. “Fanny Pack” preservers are not allowed. In the event a boat is being towed, all anglers in the towed boat must wear a life preserver.
- Tournament officials may delay, shorten, restrict tournament waters or cancel the start of an official tournament day because of bad weather or other factors that would compromise the safety of anglers.
- In the event of an emergency, teams should call 911 immediately and then notify tournament officials.
- Teams are allowed to leave the boat and seek safe shelter in bad weather when danger may be imminent, at which time all fishing must cease.
Permitted Fishing Methods: Only artificial lures may be used with the exception of pork trailers and biodegradable soft baits. Only one fishing rod per angler may be used at any one time. Additional rods may be in the boat and ready for use; however, each cast and retrieve must be completed before another cast is attempted or rod is used. Trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited. Switching or sharing fish with other teams or individuals will result in immediate disqualification. All bass must be caught alive in a conventional and sporting manner. When sight fishing, all fish must be hooked inside the mouth to be counted as a legal fish (this will be a polygraph question). All angling must be conducted from the boat. At no time may a Contestant leave the boat to land a fish, or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters.
Sportsmanship and Conduct: All teams are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles will be deemed cause for disqualification. Maximum courtesy must be practiced at all times, especially with regard to boating and angling in the vicinity of non‐competitors who may be on tournament waters. Any act of an angler, which reflects unfavorably upon Bass Pro Shops or ABA's effort to promote fisheries conservation, clean waters, and courtesy, shall be reason for disqualification. The following conduct will not be permitted and cause for disqualification:
- Consumption and/or possession of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs of any kind during tournament hours.
- Any previous conviction, charge, arrest, or investigation for a felony, a crime involving moral turpitude, or a crime related to, arising out of, or involving any fishing tournament or event.
- Actions or words which reflect unfavorably upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, and fair competition;
- Disqualification from ABA or other fishing organizations that resulted from rule violations that result in the questioning of angler’s honesty, integrity and character.
- Upon review of any questionable circumstances by ABA and the Tournament Director, the Tournament Director shall have the right to refuse any application and/or deny a confirmed application. ABA reserves the right to place an official observer in a Contestant's boat at any time during competition hours.
Media Comments, Public Attacks: The favorable public reputation of Bass Pro Shops or ABA as a sanctioning organization in the sport of fishing, the integrity of its officials and reputation of its media properties are valuable assets and tangible benefits for Bass Pro Shops and 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 or fellow anglers. Anglers 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 Bass Pro Shops or ABA, tournament officials or sponsors shall be considered conduct unbecoming a professional and will result in disciplinary action.
Assistance: During the official practice period and extending through the hours of competition, teams may not follow a non-competitor’s boat; participate in the placing of markers by non-competitors or participate in the practice of "hole sitting” by anyone. Buying or bartering for fishing locations is prohibited. The use of mobile communication devices such as cellular phones, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc., to communicate fishing information or contact with anyone during tournament hours is strictly prohibited other than contacting the Tournament Director or 911 for emergencies. In the event of an emergency, competitors should call 911 first and then notify the Tournament Director.
Boat Regulations: Maximum horsepower for the Bass Pro Shop Team Trail events cannot exceed 250hp. Each boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard horsepower-rating plate attached to the boat by the manufacturer. The horsepower of the outboard engine cannot not exceed the rating specified on this plate nor the horsepower maximum set by ABA. Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower-rating numbers on the engine is cause for immediate disqualification. Posted speed limits must be observed and all boats must be operated in a safe manner. Fuel may be carried only in factory‐installed (built‐in) fuel tanks.
Permitted Fishing Locations: Tournament waters and off limits areas shall be established by the Tournament Director for each tournament. Specifically, any water within boundaries posted “Off-Limits” or “No Fishing” by state or federal agencies as well as the live-bass-release area established by the Tournament Director will be OFF-LIMITS and will be announced at the Tournament Briefing. Only that water open to all public fishing will be considered tournament waters. All angling must be done from the boat.
Official Checkpoints: There will be only one official check-out point for boat inspection in the morning and one official check‐in point in the afternoon. Failure to go through boat check‐out in the morning or failure to officially check‐in in the afternoon will result in disqualification from such event. It is the sole responsibility of each team to arrive at the designated check‐in location on time. Regardless of what you are told or understand, it is the angler's responsibility to verify their flight time. All fishing must cease upon check‐in.
SCORING: Tournament standings, auxiliary awards and final winners shall be determined by the pounds-and-hundredths weight of each team’s catch during the competition days. Only Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted or Redeye bass will be weighed. The limit for each team shall be five (5) of the above species and varieties. Upon catching a 6th fish the team must immediately cull to the tournament limit. In the event tournament officials observe a team with more than the allowable limit in their position (in live-well) or if angler presents more that the allowable limit at weigh-in, tournament officials will cull down to the prescribed limit beginning with the largest fish. The official length for bass shall be determined by the Tournament Director and announced at the Tournament Briefing. Only bass as described above which measure the official length or more on the longest straight line, shall be weighed. Bass presented for weigh-in, which fail to measure the minimum official length, shall result in a penalty of 1 pound for each short bass and that bass will not be weighed. Once a team’s catch is presented to a tournament official, that team may not add additional fish to the catch. Any bass that appears to have been mangled, mashed, mauled or otherwise altered will be weighed and credited only at the discretion of tournament officials. Bass must not be placed on a stringer at any time during the tournament. Culling tags or clips are allowed. In the event of a mechanical failure (boat is inoperable) teams may have their catch of the day weighed and counted by one of the following methods ONLY: 1) Boat is towed to the weigh-in site by another boat; 2) One team member may take catch and board another competitors’ boat only for a ride to weigh-in. A team must not allow any bass caught by them to be counted on the score of another team. In such a case, both teams will be disqualified from this tournament and from all future tournaments conducted by ABA. Mechanical failures do not extend established weigh-in times.
Catch and Release: CULLING OF DEAD BASS IS PROHIBITED. A penalty of one (1) pound for each dead fish will be assessed and deducted from the total day’s weight. In the event the anglers' big fish is dead, a penalty of one (1) pound will be deducted from the big fish total weight. The Tournament Director or his/her designees shall have sole authority to assess dead fish penalties and for assessing penalty weight. For fish care ABA only recommends the use of T-H Marine’s G-Juice for live-well treatment and G-Force Conservation Cull System with clips.
Late Penalty: Teams who are not at the official check‐in point at the appointed time will be assessed a one (1) pound per minute penalty and the penalty weight will be deducted from their total weight including any weight to be counted toward a Big Bass award. Any Contestant more than 15 minutes late will forfeit that day's catch.
Ties: In the event of a tie for first place, the Tournament Director shall designate, depending on time and safety conditions, a fish‐off period to be held within 24 hours of the closing of the scales. If an angler/team declines to compete in the fish off, the other team involved will be awarded first place. Should a tie still exist following a fish‐off period, the heaviest bass of the fish-off will be awarded 1st place. All other ties for cash prizes will be split equally among the teams involved and duplicate points awarded to each team.
Polygraph: Polygraph exams will be administered on‐site at each event. The first place team and one or more teams randomly selected from teams receiving a check will automatically be tested. Each contestant who fishes the Bass Pro Shop Team Trail event also agrees to submit to a polygraph examination should it be deemed necessary at a time and location determined by the Tournament Director following the competition. Failure to pass the examination will result in immediate disqualification.
Protest and Reporting Procedure: All protests must be submitted in writing within fifteen (15) minutes after the announcement “Scales are closed”, to the Tournament Director or designated tournament official. The protestor also agrees that if there is a question with regards to verifying the protest charge, he or she may be subject to a polygraph exam and agrees to testify in a court of law if necessary.
Points System: Each Team Trail event is worth 300 points to the winners. Points will be awarded in 1-point decreasing increments. Contestants not weighing fish will receive 50 points. Any angler disqualified from an event will not receive points for that event.
Team Championship: Teams will qualify for the Team Championship if they have fished three (3) one-day qualifying events within a division or four events within their area. Substitutes are not allowed for this event.
Taxes: Where and when state laws require income, taxes be paid on cash awards to non-residents, the taxes may be automatically deducted prior to the awards being presented to the winners. Anglers are responsible for all applicable taxes and rules on both cash and merchandise awards.
Waiver and Release: As a condition of participation in each tournament, competitors must execute a waiver, release of liability and a name and likeness release.