Tournament Series Rules
To protect the integrity of the ABT Tournament Series (ABTTS) and our anglers, all winners will be subject to a polygraph exam before the prizes are distributed at each event. Contestants must pass the polygraph exam at the tournament site to receive prize money, awards, and points for the event. The tournament director reserves the right to waive any violation of these rules disclosed to him before the polygraph exam, at his sole and absolute discretion.
1. Official 2018 Team Trail Event Rules:
Decisions of the tournament director are final and are not subject to appeal. Interpretation of these rules will be left exclusively to the tournament director in his sole and absolute discretion. Each competitor agrees to report any rule violation to the tournament director immediately upon discovery of the violation. The violation of the tournament rules may result in loss of weight, the loss of weight up to a specific time during the tournament day, total loss of weight of the particular day, the ineligibility to participate in future ABTTS events, or any other penalty deemed appropriate by the tournament director in his sole discretion. Protests must be made in writing within 15 minutes of the official closing of scales at each tournament.
2a. Participation and Eligibility:
ABT tournaments are open to anglers with the exception of FLW Tour Boater(s) and Bassmaster Elite Series Anglers. This includes ALL FLW Tour Boaters and Bassmaster Elite Series Anglers who fished one or more events in these tournament trails in 2017, or who are registered for these respective tournament trails in 2018. All Bassmaster Elite Anglers or FLW Tour Boaters must wait a period of 12 months from the last Elite Series or FLW Tour tournament in which they participated before registering for the ABTTS.
Any angler entering an ABTTS event who is under 18 years of age must have the signature of a parent or legal guardian in the provided space on the official entry form.
Student Teams: Any team consisting of one adult and one student will be considered a “Student Team.” Students are defined as 7th-12th grade (or who have yet to begin their first semester of college). Student teams with anglers under the age of 16 are prohibited from participating in the Bassmaster Team Championship per BASS Rules.
Furthermore, parents of the student teams will not be allowed to participate in the Bassmaster Team Championship as a single person team per BASS Rules.
Couples Teams: Couples teams consist of one male competitor and one female competitor.
Collegiate Teams: Collegiate teams consist of two anglers that are currently enrolled in a two or four year college, and are in good standing with their school fishing club.
2b. All ABTTS tournaments are team events.
• All ABTTS events are team events, although a contestant may fish alone as a single person team. If a contestant chooses to fish as a single-person team the ABTTS reserves the right to place an observer in the boat at any given event, and further reserves the right to issue a polygraph at any given event. A single-person team can’t use an alternate at any event. A single-person team is prohibited from participating in the Bassmaster Team Championship per BASS Rules.
• A team may assign one alternate partner at the beginning of the year who may fish one regular-season event and allow the team to retain all points earned. ALL alternate partners MUST be assigned prior to the first tournament in their respective division.
• Alternate partners may only be used during regular season tournaments and will not be permitted to fish in the Championship.
• Under the circumstances that a team has a team member unable to fish a tournament, said team member will fish alone and will be subject to a polygraph.
• Only registered contestants/alternate partner or an approved observer may be in the boat during official tournament days.
• For Championship qualification, the same two partners must fish together to accumulate points.
No fishing information may be purchased, bartered, or solicited from any person after official practice has begun. Official practice for each regular season tournament shall be the Thursday and Friday prior to the tournament.
Official practice begins at 12:01 A.M. on Thursday and ends on Friday at 6:30 P.M.
3. Pre-tournament Practice:
All regular season ABTTS events will NOT be subject to an off-limits period; however, the Thursday and Friday prior to the tournament are considered the Official Practice Days. During official practice, all tournament rules apply.
The ABTTS Championship will observe off limits on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the tournament. Wednesday and Thursday will be the Official Practice Days for the ABTTS Championship.
4. Online Registration:
All teams must register online. Entry fees are $1,300 per team per division. All teams must register for all 5 (five) tournaments in a division. No entries will be taken for individual tournaments. Your registration includes your BASS Team Championship Program registration that is required to compete in the BASS Team Championship. It DOES NOT include a BASS Individual Membership, which is required to participate in that event. Online registrations will be accepted through Monday, February 5, 2018.
Paying a Non-Refundable Deposit:
Teams may register with a $500.00 NON-refundable deposit. The $800 balance must be paid by January 16, 2018. Once your balance has been paid in full, your registration will include your BASS Team Championship Program registration that is required to compete in the BASS Team Championship. It DOES NOT include a BASS Individual membership, which is required to participate in that event.
5. Refund and Cancellation Policy:
All teams that register and pay the full $1,300 for all 5 (five) tournaments in a division have until December 31, 2017, to request a refund. There will be a $25 fee assessed for ALL refunds. After January 1, 2018, there will be NO refunds.
6. Waiting List Policy:
Maximum capacity for each tournament is 225 boats. Teams that register after the 225-boat capacity has been reached will be put on a waiting list. You will be notified immediately via email if you have been added to the waiting list.
7. Registration Times:
Registration for all ABTTS Qualifying Team events will be held from 5:00 P.M. – 6:30 P.M. with the pre-tournament meeting beginning promptly at 6:30 P.M. Each team member must check-in, in person, at the designated site during official registration, and must present a valid fishing license and driver’s license. Team members do not have to check in at the same time. In the event a team member is unable to attend the pre-tournament meeting, they must be approved to miss that meeting by purchasing a $30 ABT Pass for that event. A $120 pass may be purchased for the entire season with the exclusion of the first tournament in each division and the ABTTS Championship. The $30 ABT Pass must be purchased by 12:00 p.m. (noon) on the Friday prior to that tournament. One team member MUST check in and attend the meeting. All team members MUST attend the first pre-tournament meeting in their respective division and the ABTTS Championship.
Safe boating must be observed at all times. Each contestant is required to wear a fastened (fully zipped and/or all clips fastened), U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device anytime the combustion engine is in operation from boat check to weigh in. All boats must be equipped with an emergency ignition shut-off device, which must be securely attached to the driver’s body any time the combustion engine is in operation. The driver must be seated in the driver’s seat anytime the combustion engine is engaged in gear. In the event of inclement weather, the tournament will be held the next day, weather permitting. Competitors are allowed to leave the boat and seek shelter in bad weather, at which time no fishing may occur.
In the event of equipment failure or emergency, the tournament director must be notified as soon as it is safe to do so. There are then two permitted methods of returning to check-in: (1) by both anglers remaining in their boat and being towed by water, or (2) with permission from the tournament director, by one or both anglers entering the boat of another tournament contestant. Under these two conditions both contestants’ catches may be counted without a penalty (except for late penalties, dead-fish penalties or other penalties pertaining to other tournament rules) provided each team’s fish are adequately marked so as to provide clear distinction to the tournament director. Contestants who elect to return to check-in by any means other than those cited will forfeit their day’s catch to that point in time of the tournament day. Abandoning a boat and leaving it adrift without proper tie-off or anchoring after a mechanical failure may result in disqualification of that day’s weight.
9. Permitted Fishing Methods:
Only artificial lures may be used with the exception of Berkley Gulp products. 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 with the combustion engine as a method of fishing is prohibited. Switching or sharing fish with other teams or individuals is a violation of these rules and will result in immediate disqualification. All bass must be caught alive, in a conventional, sporting manner. When sight fishing for bass, all fish must be hooked inside the mouth to be counted as a legal fish. 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. No Alabama rigs, or any other umbrella rigs will be allowed in ABT tournaments.
10. Sportsmanship and Conduct:
All contestants are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Examples of conduct not complying with those standards include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Consumption and/or possession of alcoholic beverages or mind-altering substances during tournament hours extending through the weigh-in procedure.
b. Any previous conviction, arrest, or investigation for a felony, or crime involving moral turpitude, or a crime related to, arising out of, or involving any fishing tournament or event. Exception will be considered with full, prior written disclosure to the tournament director under oath and by affidavit of all facts and circumstances surrounding such conviction, arrest, or investigation so long as those facts and circumstances do not result in the continuing questionability of the contestant’s honesty, integrity, character or qualifications to enter the event.
c. Actions or words that reflect unfavorably upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, and fair competition. The ABTTS will not allow bullying by any ABTTS competitor during practice, at meetings, or during tournament hours. ANY act of bullying will result in disqualification from the event and any future ABTTS events. ANY DOCUMENTED VIOLATION OF THE SPORTMANSHIP RULE WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION OF ALL ABTTS EVENTS.
d. Chemical or substance abuse.
e. Disqualification from any ABTTS or other fishing organization’s tournament that resulted from unexplained rule violations that result in a contestant’s honesty, integrity, character, and qualifications for entry into a ABTTS event being questionable in the tournament director’s sole and absolute discretion.
f. Anglers participating in any ABTTS sanctioned event shall observe this code of conduct and the applicable rules for the specific event in which they are participating. Anglers shall, at all times, conduct themselves in a professional manner that demonstrates integrity, honor and respect towards fellow competitors, tournament staff, and general public, and does not reflect unfavorably on ABTTS, its members, officers or representatives, tournaments, or sponsors.
To this end, anglers shall use their best efforts to demonstrate professionalism and integrity in support of the sport of professional fishing. Any angler who violates any of the provisions of the Angler Code of Conduct may be subject to fines, reduction of points, forfeiture of tournament winnings, suspension from competing in individual ABTTS sanctioned events, permanent ban from competition, or any combination thereof deemed appropriate by the ABTTS.
Upon review of the circumstances by ABTTS and the tournament director, the tournament director shall have the right to refuse any application, or to deny a confirmed application by returning the entry fee of a previously accepted application, or disqualifying a contestant. ABTTS reserves the right to place an official observer in a contestant’s boat at any time during competition hours.
During official practice days and hours of competition, contestants may not receive fishing information from non-competitors or participate in the practice of “hole-sitting.” The use of mobile communication devices such as cellular phones, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc. to communicate fishing information during tournament hours is strictly prohibited. In the event of an emergency situation, competitors should first dial 911 and then notify Tournament Director.
12. Boat and Horsepower Regulation:
Each boat must have all the required U. S. Coast Guard safety equipment. Boats must contain properly aerated live well space to maintain alive the limit of catch of bass. Maximum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition may not exceed the horsepower limitation set by the U. S. Coast Guard in such vessel. Falsifying information on entry forms, or altering the horsepower numbers on the motor, or rating the plate to conceal such limitations will be cause for disqualification from the tournament. No contestant may have a platform, raised deck, or ladder that is higher than the gunnel of the boat. Standing on the fishing seats or outboard motor will not be allowed in ABTTS events. No air or jet boats will be permitted during official practice or competition days. “Official practice” days are those days, if any, designated by ABTTS as such on its website with respect to a particular tournament. 2018 ABTTS championship qualifying team events – five (5) per region.
13. Permitted Fishing Locations:
Contestants may fish anywhere on tournament waters accessible by boat, except areas designated as “off-limits” or “no fishing” by state or federal officials, or within 50 yards of a competitor’s boat which was first anchored (an anchored boat is a boat held in a stable position by a line attached to a weight with the trolling motor in the up position), or within 50 yards of a non-anchored competitor’s boat unless otherwise agreed upon by the other tournament angler. The act of moving bass from one area of the lake to another area of the same lake at any time is not permitted, regardless of whether or not it is during official practice or competition days. Locking through to another body of water is not permitted at anytime time during tournament hours.
14. Off-limits Areas:
Such areas established and announced at the briefing meeting for each ABTTS events. Contestants may not fish inside the established “off-limits” area. Violation of the rule will result in immediate disqualification. Contestants’ boats must remain in the tournament waters during the event.
15. Trailering Is Not Allowed:
All boats must leave the official checkpoint in the order designated at registration. Contestants may launch their boat at a ramp other than the designated take-off location, but all contestants must come through the official checkpoint location before leaving to fish. In the event of severe weather, alternate takeoff instructions will be given at the registration site at the sole discretion of the tournament director.
16. Official Checkpoints:
There will be only two official checkpoints for boat inspection in the morning and one official check-in point in the afternoon. Failure to go through the checkout in the morning or failure to officially check in at the check-in-point will result in disqualification from such event. During morning checkout, all teams are required to idle a minimum of 100 yards before putting the boat on plane. It is the sole responsibility of each contestant 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 his/her provided flight card time. All fishing must cease upon check-in, or upon such other time as may be designated by the tournament director.
Scoring will be determined by the pounds and hundredths of a pound of each angler’s catch during the tournament. ONLY Largemouth, Spotted and Smallmouth Bass are accepted species. The limit will be five (5) per team. Any contestant who possesses more than the tournament limit at any time will have his/her catch for the day disqualified. The minimum official length limit for all species for the 2018 ABTTS Qualifying Team event will be provided at each event. Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the prescribed length limit, will result in loss of that fish and a half–pound penalty to the weight of the remaining fish. Each contestant’s catch must be presented in an official weigh-in bag. The Pro-Rule measuring board is the official measuring board of ABTTS. Bass will be measured with mouth closed, tail compressed and swiped to achieve overall greatest length.
18. Live Fish:
You may weigh one dead fish as a part of your five-fish total; a one-pound penalty will be assessed to your total weight for the day. No dead fish will be weighed for big fish. Culling a dead fish is prohibited and will result in disqualification. All dead fish must be brought to weigh in for sanitary disposal.
19. Late Penalty:
Contestants who are not at the official check-in point at the appointed time will be assessed a one-pound-per-minute penalty 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. In the event of a mechanical break down, a contestant may return to check-in location with their catch by receiving a ride from another registered contestant or tournament official only. The contestants must return to the official check-in location by the methods set forth above by their assigned check-in time to avoid late penalty.
20. Closing of the Scales:
Scales will close 30 minutes after the last flight is due in. Due to certain weigh-in locations, this time may be lengthened or shortened at the tournament director’s sole and absolute discretion. Any change to the above stated official scale closing time will be announced during registration, during boat checkout, or during weigh-in. It is the angler’s responsibility to verify the official scale closing time and to be in the weigh-in line by such time.
In the event an AOY Team is disqualified from the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series between the last regular season tournament and the championship, they agree to forfeit any and all prizes they receive from being the AOY Team. Furthermore, said team agrees to forfeit their entry into the BASS Team Championship.
A tie for 1st place in all 2018 ABTTS events will be broken by a one-hour fish off. All other ties will result in splitting that place and the next place’s money.
Ties in the teams that qualify for the BASS Team Championship will be broken by adding each team’s total weight for the season; the highest weight will determine a qualifier.
22. Championship Qualifiers:
The Championship will be made up of the 10 regular season winners, the top 75 teams from each division, the top 15 student teams, the top 5 collegiate teams, and the top 5 couples teams in the points at the end of the regular season. ALL teams must enter all five (5) qualifying events in their respective division to qualify for the 2018 ABTTS Championship. You may fish with a different partner in a different division, but your points will NOT transfer from one division to the other. In the event a team cannot participate in the championship event, the next team in the points standing will be invited.
Points will be awarded as follows: Points will begin at 225 for 1st Place, 224 for 2nd Place, 223 for 3rd Place and so on. All teams that do not weigh a bass will receive 10 points less than the last place team that weighed fish in that event. Points will be awarded only to teams that fish an event; if a team does not show up for that event, that team will not receive points.
The ABTTS will determine the number of teams to move on to the B.A.S.S. Team Championship by the average number of boats in each division; the maximum per division is nine (9). Qualified teams will receive their entry fee paid by the ABTTS up to $1,000 per team. (This is only applicable if BASS continues their BASS Team Championship.) Teams that qualify in both divisions will be sent to the BASS Team Championship in the division they accumulate the most points.
24. Angler Team of the Year (AOY):
AOY will be awarded in both North and South Divisions. Each AOY Team will receive FREE 2019 entry fees for their respective division. The TOP Overall AOY Points Leaders will be named the 2018 Alabama Bass Trail AOY Team and will receive $5,000. The AOY Team in the other division will receive $2,500. In the event that an AOY team in disqualified from the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series, they agree to forfeit any and all prizes they receive.
25. Photography & Video:
All photos and/or video taken at an ABTTS event are the property of the ABT Tournament Series and may be used for promotional purposes. If media approaches, you are expected to present yourself in a professional manner and accommodate them within reason. During weigh in you are expected to present yourself in a professional manner and answer the questions to the best of your ability. All video/camera equipment placed in a contestant’s boat shall not be tampered with or removed without permission from the ABTTS tournament director. Any tampering with, powering off, or removing of this equipment will result in the team’s disqualification.