American Bass Anglers Inc. Tournament Rules
2023 American Couples Tour National Championship
Weiss Lake, Leesburg, AL (updated 7/11/2023)
(October 26-27, 2023)
Entry Fees: Championship - $150
Site: Weiss Lake
Off-Limits: Sunset October 2, 2023, through Safelight October 21, 2023
Practice Period: Saturday, October 21, 2023, through Wednesday, 3 pm October 25, 2023
Tournament Days: October 26 - 27, 2023
RULE CHANGES: These rules supplement to the 2023 ABA Couples Series rules and will remain unchanged throughout the 2023 American Couples Tour National Championship. Interpretation of these rules shall be left exclusively to the tournament director. In the event of a rule violation, the tournament director may impose such sanctions, as he/she deems appropriate, including, without limitation, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes, forfeiture of entry fee, and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments. The decision of the tournament director shall be final in all matters. Protests for any rule infraction must be made in writing and submitted to the tournament director within 30 minutes of the official announcement of the scales are closed.
PARTICIPANTS AND ELIGIBILITY: Participation is open to teams comprised of one male and one female in good standing of American Bass Angler, Inc. who are 16 years of age or older and possess a valid state fishing license for tournament waters, and who have qualified to participate in the American Couples Tour National Championship (Are ranked in the top 200 teams). Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the competitor. DURING THE OFFICIAL PRACTICE AND COMPETITION DAYS OF AN American Bass Anglers TOURNAMENT, NO COMPETITOR MAY OPERATE A BOAT UNLESS THAT CONTESTANT HAS DOCUMENTED PROOF OF A MINIMUM OF $100,000 BOATING LIABILITY INSURANCE ON THAT PARTICULAR BOAT WITH VALID EXPIRATION DATE. PROOF OF INSURANCE MUST BE WITH THE BOAT BEING USED AND MUST COVER THE COMPETITOR USING THAT BOAT. RANDOM CHECKS WILL BE CONDUCTED THROUGHOUT THE TOURNAMENT. A properly completed and signed official entry form must be presented 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. 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 entry form.
POLYGRAPH: 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. Any person convicted of violating tournament rules or failing to successfully pass a polygraph/voice test will not be allowed membership or entry into any American Bass Angler, Inc event. The administration and interpretation of the polygraph/voice test shall be solely the responsibility of American Bass Anglers, Inc. 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.
3. PRE-TOURNAMENT PRACTICE/OFF-LIMITS:
a) Pre-tournament practice; will be from 6:00 AM CST, October 21, through 3 pm Wednesday, October 25. During official practice, all tournament rules are in force. During official practice, contestants may only pre-fish alone, with a member of his/her immediate family, another contestant of this tournament, a national sponsor of American Bass Anglers, or a member of American Bass Anglers staff. ANGLERS MUST BE OFF TOURNAMENT WATERS BY 4:00 pm October 25.
b) Off Limits begins at sunset on October 2, 2023, and continues through Safe Daylight on October 21, 2023. No contestant may enter the tournament water to catch or locate possible fishing locations during the off-limits period or after the mandatory rules and safety meeting, or after each day's weigh-in. During the off-limits and practice period, other than using publicly available information (e.g., newspaper, periodical, and internet reports), competitors cannot solicit, receive, or gather any information via phone, electronic devices, including purchasing of GPS locations or other means to locate or catch fish on tournament waters. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS
REGISTRATION: Pre-Tournament online registration will begin on June 26, 2023, with phone-in registration starting July 10th, 2023. Entries received or postmarked after 5 pm, October 2nd, will be assessed a $25 late fee.
SAFETY: Safe boating conduct will always be observed. During 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. The boat operator must have a safety-stop switch attached to their person when the combustion engine is in gear. During practice and tournament hours extreme caution must be exercised by boat operators during bad weather. In addition, extreme caution must be exercised, and boat operators must be aware that there will be large cruisers and barges operating that displace extremely large volumes of water which create unusually large wakes. Weather and water turbulence can be extremely hazardous and extreme caution should always be exercised. Violation of either the PFD or safety-stop switch portion of this rule will result in disqualification.
SPORTSMANSHIP: All contestants are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation. Contestants must adhere to all local, state, and federal laws. Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification. 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. Each contestant must keep the waters clean and bring trash back to the dock for disposal. Chemical substance addiction or abuse, conviction of a felony 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. 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.
TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT: Only artificial lures may be used. No “live bait” or “prepared bait” will be permitted during official practice and competition, except for pork strips, rinds, etc. Only one rod and reel combination may be used at one time. No fly rods or rods over 8 ft. 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. Boats must remain in tournament waters during tournament day/days. Competitors must leave and return to the official checkpoint by boat. Both competitors must remain in the boat during tournament hours except in case of dire emergency. In such an emergency, competitors may be removed from their boat to: A BOAT OPERATED BY OTHER COMPETITORS OR a RESCUE BOAT DESIGNATED BY THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR. Any transmission of information via any communicative device concerning any aspect of fishing is prohibited during tournament hours.
HORSEPOWER REGULATION: 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 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 more than the Coast Guard 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 tournaments.
BOAT AND MOTOR: 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 operating. Also, any time the combustion engine is operating and in gear, there must be a driver in the driver’s seat in full control of the boat. Fishing boats that are 16 feet or more in length may 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 Livewell to maintain a live limit catch of bass by both contestants.
BOAT OPERATION: Boat operators must be a minimum of 18 years of age. All boat operations within 300 yards of the launch facility will be by trolling motor or idle speed only.
PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS: Weiss Lake has been designated the Official Tournament waters for the 2023 American Couples Tour National Championship. OFF LIMITS will be from dusk on October 2, 2023, until safe light on October 21, 2023. Locking will be permitted. Fishing is not permitted within 50 yards of a marina gas pump or within 50 yards of another competitor’s boat anchored or not. Competitors invoking the 50-yard rule must hold their boats steady. Any competitor that allows any other competitor to fish within 50 yards of their boat has suspended the 50-yard rule and opened the water to all competitors. Off-limits will be: 1 – The “No-Wake” buoys and inside the entire marina area for the launch ramp; 2 – Additional off-limits areas may be designated and explained at the pre-tournament meeting by the tournament director.
OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT: There will be only one official point for checkout in the morning and check-in in the afternoon. Competitors not at the checkpoint at the designated time will be penalized at the rate of 1 lb. per minute, deducted from their total weight for the day. Any competitor more than 15 minutes late for a send-off or check-in will be disqualified for the day. The 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 of fishing time.
SCORING: (CULLING OF DEAD BASS IS PROHIBITED) Pounds and ounces of each team’s (two-day total) 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 limit is less. At no time shall a team have in their possession more than the tournament limit. Culling must be done immediately. The minimum length will be 12-inch Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass (measured on a flat board). A penalty of 1 lb. will be deducted from the total weight for each short fish, and a penalty of 4 oz. will be deducted from the total weight for each dead fish. Penalty weights will be subtracted from the scale weight. A team that presents more fish than the tournament limit will be disqualified immediately. Mangled, mashed, mauled, or otherwise altered fish will be grounds for immediate disqualification. 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 lake and the tournament director will dispose of any dead fish.
MANDATORY MEETING: There will be MANDATORY rules and safety briefings for all contestants on October 25, 2023, at 5:30 PM (TBA). During this briefing boat numbers and flights will be designated.
TIE: In case of a tie, combining awards and dividing them equally among the tied contestants shall resolve positions. A form of lottery shall determine trophy positions. The tournament director may decide to break first-place ties with a fish-off
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