2015 Rules Overview

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 rights to waive any violation of these rules that are disclosed to him before the polygraph exam, in his sole and absolute discretion.

1. Official 2015 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 rule 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 2014 or who are registered for these respective tournament trails in 2015.

Any angler entering an ABTTS event who is under 18 years of age also must have a 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 haven’t begun their first semester of college).

2b. All ABTTS tournaments are team events.

• A team shall consist of no more than two (2) anglers.
• 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. The team must sign a form declaring the alternate partner prior to the first event.
• Alternate partners may only be used during regular season tournaments and will not be permitted to fish in the Championship.
• Teams that have an unavoidable circumstance that results in a team member who cannot fish an event must notify the tournament director within 24 hours prior to registration to get an approved observer. Observers will ONLY be provided in the event of sickness, death, or birth of child. Observers will NOT be provided for your partner to fish another tournament. If the ABTTS is made aware that a team used an observer for a partner to fish another tournament, the team will be disqualified.
• 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.
• The alternate partner cannot be used in the championship tournament. In the event a team member cannot fish the championship, an observer will be provided. The tournament director must be notified by 5:00 P.M. on October 7, 2015.

2c. Information:

No fishing information may be purchased, bartered or solicited from any person who entered official tournament waters during the established off-limits period for all ABTTS qualifying events, specifically including, but not limited to, an ineligible partner as described in rule 2b above.

3. Pre-tournament Practice:

All ABTTS Divisional tournaments will observe an off-limits period of Monday and Tuesday prior to the tournament. Official practice for all ABTTS events begins on Wednesday prior to the tournament. ABTTS Championship will observe off limits for the Monday and Tuesday prior to the tournament on Friday. The Wednesday and Thursday prior to the tournament will be the official practice days for the ABTTS Championship.

4. Online Registration:

All teams must register online. Entry fees are $1,250 per team per division. All teams must register for all 5 (five) tournaments in a division. No entries will be taken for individual tournaments. The ABTTS registration includes your B.A.S.S. Team Championship Program registration required to compete in the B.A.S.S. Team Championship. It DOES NOT include a B.A.S.S. Individual Membership, which is required to participate. Online registrations will be taken until midnight Friday one-week prior to the event or until the field is sold out.

5. Refund and Cancellation Policy:

All teams that sign up for ALL five (5) events in their division have until January 1, 2015, to be refunded. There will be a $25 fee accessed on ALL refunds. After January 1, 2015, 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. – 7:00 P.M. with the pre-tournament meeting beginning promptly at 7:00 P.M. Each team member must check-in at the designated site in person during official registration and must present a valid fishing license, drivers license and proof of boat insurance. 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 purchase an ABT Pass for that event for $30 to be approved to miss that meeting or $120 for the entire season with the exclusion of the first tournament in each division and the ABTTS Championship. The ABT Pass must be purchased by 12:00 A.M. (midnight) on the Wednesday 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.

8. Safety:

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 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 nor any other umbrella rigs will be allowed in ABT tournaments.

What is an Alabama or Umbrella Rig?

Alabama Rigs or Umbrella Rigs are not allowed in any form in ABT events. If a lure has more than one lure body or more than four blades, it is not allowed. Having one in your boat during the tournament will result in disqualification.

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 substance during tournament hours extending through the weigh-in procedure.

b. Any previous conviction, 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. 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.

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.

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.

11. Assistance:

During 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 Jody Harrison at 205-243-4572.

12. Boat and Horsepower Regulation:

Each boat must have all 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. 2015 ABTTS championship qualifying team events – five (5) per region – do not have any official practice days.

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 25 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 confined area of the same lake at any time, whether or not during official practice days or competition days, is not permitted. 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 by boat 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.

17. Scoring:

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 2015 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 and verified by signature of at least one team member. 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.

21. Ties:

A tie for 1st place in all 2015 ABTTS events will be broken by a one-hour fish-off. All other ties will be resolved by splitting that place and the next place’s money.

22. Championship Qualifiers:

The 10 teams that win an ABTTS tournament during the regular season qualify for the championship. The Top 55 teams in the points standing will be invited to the the 2015 ABTTS Team Championship. Additionally, the top 25 Student Teams (collectively from North and South Divisions) will automatically qualify. ALL teams must enter all five (5) qualifying events in their respective division to qualify for the 2015 ABTTS Championship. You may fish with a different partner in a different division, but 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.

23. Points:

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 four (4). 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.)

24. Angler Team of the Year (AOY):

AOY will be awarded in both North and South Divisions. Each AOY Team will receive FREE 2016 entry fees for their respective division. The TOP Overall AOY Points Leaders will be named the 2016 Alabama Bass Trail AOY Team and will receive $5,000.

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.