Tournament Series Rules
To protect the integrity of the Alabama Bass Trail 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 refusal of any winner to voluntarily submit to a polygraph exam before the prizes are distributed at each event automatically disqualifies any winner from being eligible to receive any prize money, awards, points for the event, and any other offered prize and/or award. All decisions regarding compliance with ABTTS’s rules and the interpretation of these rules will be made by the tournament director at his/her sole and absolute discretion, and ABTTS, Alabama Bass Trail (ABT), and the tournament director reserve the right to make additional reasonable rules for the conduct of its tournaments if circumstances require. The tournament director reserves the right to waive any violation of these rules disclosed to him/her before the polygraph exam, at his/her sole and absolute discretion. The ABTTS Director, the ABT Director, and the Tournament Director shall have the right to refuse any application or deny a confirmed application by returning the entry fee of a previously accepted application or disqualifying a contestant.
1. Official 2020 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/her 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, the ineligibility to participate in future ABT events, or any other penalty deemed appropriate by the tournament director in his/her sole and absolute discretion. Protests must be made in writing within 15 minutes of the official closing of scales at each tournament, and any written protests must be provided to the tournament director in writing within said time period. If a protest is not made in writing within the required 15-minute time period, the contestant waives his/her right to submit a protest.
2. 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 and changes to your registration will be accepted through Monday, February 3, 2020.
3. Paying a Deposit:
Teams may register with a $500.00 NON-refundable deposit. The $800 balance must be paid by Friday, January 17, 2020. 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.
4. 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, 2019, to request a refund. There will be a $25 fee assessed for ALL refunds. After January 1, 2020, there will be NO refunds.
5. 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.
6. Participation and Eligibility:
ABTTS tournament are open to anglers with the exception of FLW Tour Boater(s), Bassmaster Elite Series Anglers, and Major League Fishing Anglers. This includes ALL FLW Tour Boaters, Bassmaster Elite Series Anglers, and Major League Fishing Anglers who fished one or more events in these tournament trails in 2019, or who are registered for these respective tournament trails in 2020. Bassmaster Elite Anglers, FLW Tour Pros, and Major League Fishing Anglers must wait a period of 12 months from the last Elite Series, FLW Tour, and MLF tournament in which they participated before registering for the ABTTS.
Any angler entering an ABTTS or an ABT 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 or two high school students 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.
Each contestant that voluntarily participates in any ABT event or ABTTS event voluntarily agrees to abide by ABT’s Rules, ABTTS’ Rules, and all applicable state and federal laws, and any violation of the said Rules and/or laws will subject the contestant to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director.
Each contestant that voluntarily participates in any ABT event or ABTTS event voluntarily agrees to submit and subject himself/herself to a polygraph exam.
7. 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. Any contestant who refuses to voluntarily submit to a polygraph exam will be disqualified from said event at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director. 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 by February 3, 2020. Teams fishing as a Couples team must use an alternate of the same sex as the team member absent from the event. Teams fishing in the Student division must use another student as the alternate if the student is absent from the event.
Alternate partners may only be used during regular season tournaments and will not be permitted to fish in the ABTTS 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 at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director.
Only registered contestants/alternate partner or an approved observer may be in the boat during official tournament days. Alternate partners are only allowed in the boat during practice days of the tournament they will be participating in.
8. 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.
9. Pre-tournament Practice:
All regular season ABTTS events and ABT events will not be subject to an off-limits period. The Thursday and Friday prior to the tournament are considered the Official Practice Days. During Official Practice Days, all tournament rules apply.
The ABTTS Championship will observe the off-limits period on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the tournament. The Wednesday and Thursday before the ABTTS Championship will be the Official Practice Days for the tournament. During Official Practice Days, all tournament rules apply.
During Official Practice Days and hours of competition, contestants may not purchase, barter or solicit fishing information from any person 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 the tournament director. Official Practice Days consist of the Thursday and Friday immediately prior to the event. During Official Practice Days, all tournament rules apply.
No contestant shall, knowingly or unknowingly, allow or have at any time any person in their boat on tournament waters 30 days prior to the first Official Practice Day of an ABTTS or ABT tournament that has been banned, agreed to not register for or participate in an ABTTS or ABT sanctioned event, agreed not to perform guide services for anyone participating in an ABTTS or ABT sanctioned event, or who is not in good standing with ABTTS or ABT. Compliance with this rule is the sole responsibility of the contestant. Any contestant or team who violates this rule, knowingly or unknowingly, shall be subject to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action that is at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director. Further, by participating in an ABTTS or ABT event the contestant understands and agrees by his/her participation in an ABTTS or ABT event that the tournament director is only required to inform any contestant or team who violates this rule that they are in violation of this rule and that ABTTS, ABT, and the tournament director are not required to provide any additional information to the contestant or team. During Official Practice Days, all tournament rules apply.
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. Whether or not contestants may be disqualified for improperly “abandoning” a boat is in the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director.
12. Permitted Fishing Methods:
Only artificial lures may be used. 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 shall 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 ABTTS tournaments. All contestants must comply with all applicable state and federal laws, and any contestants’ failure to comply with all applicable state and federal laws are subject to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action that is at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director.
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 any time during tournament hours.
14. Off-limits Areas:
Off-limits areas are such areas established and announced at the briefing meeting for each and every ABTTS or ABT event. 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. 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 or ABT 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 or ABT as such on its website with respect to a particular tournament. 2020 ABTTS championship qualifying team events – five (5) per region.
16. Sportsmanship and Conduct:
All contestants are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. All contestants must comply with all applicable state and federal laws, and any contestants’ failure to comply with all applicable state and federal laws are subject to disqualification and/or other disciplinary action that is at the sole and absolute discretion of the tournament director. 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 and ABT 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 event and ABT event. ANY DOCUMENTED VIOLATION OF THE SPORTMANSHIP RULE WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION OF ALL ABTTS EVENTS AND ABT EVENTS.
d. Chemical or substance abuse.
e. Disqualification from any ABTTS, ABT, 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 an ABTTS event or ABT event being questionable is in the tournament director’s sole and absolute discretion.
17. 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 and absolute discretion of the tournament director.
18. 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 2020 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 total 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, and ABT. Bass will be measured with mouth closed, tail compressed and swiped to achieve overall greatest length.
20. 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.
21. 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 breakdown, 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.
22. 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.
A tie for 1st place in all 2020 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 ABTTS and BASS Team Championship will be broken by adding each team’s total weight for the season; and the highest weight will determine a qualifier.
24. 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 couple 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 2020 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 fishing both divisions qualify for the championship in both, they will attend the championship representing the division they finish highest in the points. 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; and 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.
26. Angler Team of the Year (AOY):
AOY will be awarded in both the North and South Divisions. Each AOY Team will receive FREE 2021 entry fees for their respective division. The TOP Overall AOY Points Leaders will be named the 2020 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 is disqualified from the ABTTS prior to that years championship, they agree to forfeit any and all prizes they receive.
27. Photography & Video:
All photos and/or video taken at an ABTTS event or ABT event are the property of the ABTTS and the ABT and may be used for promotional purposes. If any form of the 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.
The captions at the beginning of each paragraph are intended to facilitate convenience in referring to the various rules. The captions are not part of the substance of the paragraph and should not be used in construction of any paragraph or of this overall set of rules.