Rule changes. The Following rules of the Tournament will remain unchanged. The decision of the Tournament Committee will be final in all matters. All rules written or any situation that may arise during the Tournament will be interpreted for conservation, sportsmanship, fair play, and an equal playing field. Interpretation of these rules shall be left exclusively to the Tournament Committee. Please pay special attention to the locking rules.
Eligibility. Contestants must be at least 18 years of age UNLESS participating with a parent or guardian.
Cheating. Cheating will not be tolerated. Each contestant agrees by their signature on the entry form to submit to a polygraph test. Tournament Committee will determine who will take the tests. Anyone refusing to take a test will be disqualified.
Safety. Safe boating conduct must be observed at all times by all Tournament competitors. No wake at the launch/weigh-in area. Obey local water laws. Each competitor is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved chest-type personal flotation device (PFD). PFD must be worn any time the combustion engine is operating. The PFD must be strapped or zippered securely until the combustion engine is shut off. Violation of this rule shall be reason for immediate disqualification.
Sportsmanship. Sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation are expected for each competitor. Behavior contradicting these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification. Drunkenness on the part of any competitor during the Tournament will not be tolerated and shall be cause for automatic disqualification. If a competitor is obviously intoxicated in the opinion of the Tournament Committee, that competitor will not be permitted to participate in the Tournament. No alcohol is allowed in your boat during Tournament hours.
Tackle and equipment. Only artificial lures may be used. No live or prepared bait will be permitted with the exception of pork strips, rind, etc. Only one casting, spinning, or spin-casting rod (8-foot maximum length from butt to tip) and reel may be used at any one time by each competitor. All other types are prohibited. Other rigs specified above may be in the boat ready for use, but only one may be used be each competitor at any given time. All bass must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner.
Horsepower. Combustion engines powering boats used in the Tournament may not exceed the horsepower limitations set by the Coast Guard ruling of November 1, 1972.
Boat and motors. Tournament boats must be 12 feet or more in length and have standard Coast Guard safety equipment. A smaller gasoline or electric motor may be used to maneuver the boat while casting. However, trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited. Boats having electric starters must have emergency kill devices used while the combustion engine is operating. All boats must have a Tournament-accepted, aerated livewell. No minnow savers accepted.
Tournament headquarters. Tournament headquarters shall be the Tournament site (Albany, Illinois city ramp). All competitors must start and end the Tournament at this site. The official weigh-in station shall also be at the Tournament site.
Permitted fishing locations. Fishing is permitted anywhere that is accessible to all competitors unless otherwise stated by the Tournament Committee during the pre-Tournament meeting or before launch. You may not fish within 50 yards of another competitor’s boat that is anchored with the trolling motor up. A boat may be anchored by traditional anchor or spike-style anchor (e.g. Power-Pole or Dig In) but the trolling motor MUST BE UP to be considered anchored. All fishing must be done from your boat. Competitors may not leave the boat to land fish. Boats must stay in the water during the Tournament. All competitors must leave the official dock by boat and return by boat. Both competitors must remain together at all times except in the case of fire, emergency, or where crew safety is involved. Trailering of boats during the Tournament is prohibited. Brown’s Lake and posted areas within the Savanna Army Depot are off limits (all land and water east of Crooked Slough per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations).
Fish care. Competitors are expected to keep bass alive. A 1-pound penalty will be assessed for each dead fish.
Tournament hours. Check-in time begins at 5:00 a.m. Blast off begins at safe light as determined by the Tournament Committee and will be staggered by boat flights as determined by the Tournament Committee. Weigh-in time begins at 3:00 p.m. and will be staggered by boat flights as determined by the Tournament Committee. Hours will be given before blast off and hours are subject to change by the Tournament Committee.
Late penalty. Competitors who have not checked in with the dock attendants prior to their official weigh-in time will be considered late and will lose 100% of their catch. No excuses.
Scoring. Scoring will be determined by pounds and ounces accumulated during the Tournament. Only largemouth, smallmouth, and Kentucky spotted bass will be accepted. Only five (5) fish per boat may be weighed in. Competitors bringing more than five (5) fish to the weigh-in station will have their catch culled down to 5 fish and the largest fish will be culled first. At no time shall any competitor possess more than the legal limit. Periodic checks may be made by a Tournament Official and any competitor having more than the legal limit in his or her possession will have their fish culled down to the legal limit by the Tournament Official with the largest bass culled first.. No culling within 100 yards of the launch ramp. Each competitor must present his own catch to the weigh-in station. Minimum length for all bass is 14 inches. All fish will be measured on a flat metal measuring board with mouth closed and with a pinched or fanned tail. Any short fish presented for weigh-in will result in a 3-pound penalty and loss of short fish.
Ties. All ties will be broken by biggest fish.
Blast-off procedure. Boats will leave the launch area in line, by boat number, beginning with boat #1 and progressing in numerical order. Boat number plates will be provided to each competitor for displaying to other competitors in the launch area prior to take off to enable positioning prior to blast off.
Locking. Competitors are permitted to lock into another river pool. OBSERVE ALL LOCK REGULATIONS. Approaches to the locks are considered no-wake areas. Wait for lock master’s horn before entering or exiting the lock. Smoking is prohibited in the lock. Boats shall enter the locks and proceed to the front of the lock in the order they arrive at the lock. Fill the shore side of the lock first in line. The crew must grab and hold the ropes provided by the lock staff. DO NOT TIE YOUR BOAT OFF to ropes or ladders inside the lock. When the shore side is full, boats should proceed to the channel side of the lock and line up in order. No passing or jockeying for position inside the locks will be tolerated and will be reason for disqualification. At Lock & Dam 13, a Tournament Official will be present in the morning to call out blast offs with a bull horn from the lock wall beginning with the shore-side boats and followed with the channel-side boats. Boats must idle to the area designated by the Tournament Official and receive permission from the Tournament Official before putting the boat on plane.
Team. Each team will consist of two (2) competitors. In the event that one team member is not able to participate on tournament day, the Tournament Committee will meet to determine if an exception can be made to allow the other team member may fish alone. The decision of the Tournament Committee will be final.
Protests. Protests must be filed in writing with a Tournament Committee member within 15 minutes after the scales are closed. Upon receiving a protest, the Tournament Committee will randomly select four additional ad hoc Committee members from among the Tournament participants. The full Protest Committee will then hear any arguments and render a decision. The decision of the Protest Committee will be final.
Arguing. Arguing with Tournament Officials, including volunteers, will be reason for disqualification.
Breakdowns. In case of boat breakdown, a competitors is allowed to return to the Tournament headquarters in another Tournament competitor’s boat. Fish must be kept separate or identifiable. One competitors from the breakdown boat must remain with the fish. Fish must be passed from boat to boat. The Tournament Committee must be notified upon return.