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National Bass West Tournament Rules

The official National Bass West tournament rules are put into place to create a fair competition amongst anglers and to protect the fish that are caught. We encourage all competitors to read, understand and ask any questions that might arise prior to an event. “Lake Specific” revisions or exemptions, should any be necessary, will be posted on the National Bass West website or announced at the mandatory rules meeting prior to the competition. Meeting may be as you sign-up for the event. National Bass West reserves the right to refuse any entry into its team tournaments at the discretion of the tournament authority.

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National Bass West Tournament Rules

Official tournament rules for National Bass West events. “Lake Specific” revisions or exemptions, should any be necessary, will be posted on the National Bass West website or announced at the mandatory rules meeting prior to the competition. Meeting may be as you sign-up for the event. National Bass West reserves the right to refuse any entry into its team tournaments at the discretion of the tournament authority.


Participation in each tournament is open to all members in good standing in National Bass West. Non-members may join National Bass West by purchasing a $40 membership. National Bass West requires all anglers to be members prior to fishing events. At least one team member must be 18 years or older in order to compete. If your team chooses to compete in the "Sportsman's Division" they must sign the entry stating that their team's combined earnings do not exceed $2,000 within the last 24 months of the tournament date. Any team that falsifies their entry is subject to immediate disqualification, payback of earnings and loss of membership.


It is the sole responsibility of the boat owner to carry and have proof of adequate public liability insurance covering themselves and passengers. All contestants are required to sign a waiver absolving the tournament sponsors, co-sponsors and their employees from any responsibility for any damage or personal injury sustained as a result of their participation in the tournament or related activities. Contestants are required to have in their possession and provide proof of insurance on demand by the tournament director. All participants agree to hold harmless National Bass West, officers, directors and agents.


Boating safety must be observed at all times during practice and competition. A U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver must be on and fastened anytime the combustible engine is in operation. The kill switch lanyard must be attached to the driver during competition day. It is suggested that this be practiced during any practice day, but will be enforced only on competition day. A violation during a competition will result in a disqualification.


All teams are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation. Any team who displays poor sportsmanship, violates these rules, or any Department of Fish and Game, state or local laws, or brings unfavorable publicity to the sport of bass fishing is subject to disqualification upon the tournament director’s discretion. National Bass West reserves the right to cancel membership at anytime. National Bass West reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. The tournament director’s decision is final.


There is no horsepower limit; however, no engine may exceed the BIA horsepower rating for the boat on which it is used. All boats must meet US Coast Guard and state regulations. All boats must have an emergency kill switch. All boats must have lights required by the Coast Guard. Lights must be in and turned on prior to safe light. During a night event, the running lights must be on and working after sunset during the event.


All fish must be caught in a legal sporting manner. Intentional snagging of fish will not be allowed and will be subject to disqualification. Trolling with the aid of combustion or electric motors is not permitted. Only artificial lures may be used. No live bait or prepared bait is permitted with the exception of pork rinds or mammals hide. Liquid fish attractants are allowed. Only one (1) rod per angler may be used at any one time. Other rods may be in the boat and ready for use, however, every cast and retrieve must be completed before another cast is made. Rods may not exceed more than 8’6” in length. The official measuring board for National Bass West is the Golden Rule (flat board). The use of electronic fish tracking equipment is NOT allowed within 90 days of any tournament. Underwater cameras are allowed in official practice days only and not in competition.


All protests must be submitted verbally and then in writing no later than 15 minutes after the tournament officials close the scales. This means once the tournament is over, it’s over. You must have at least one witness to confirm the violation other than your non-boater. The Tournament Director will hear protests and the decisions of the Tournament Director will be final. You may however use photographs with date stamps….i.e. cell assist in your protest in lieu of a second party, boat. The director’s decision will be final based upon the additional information provided.


All contestants, winners and non-winners are subject to a polygraph test. Failure to submit to a polygraph test and sign the waiver, will result in immediate disqualification. Any contestant who has failed a polygraph test in connection with any bass tournament for cheating or rule violation or whose results are found to be inconclusive will be subject to disqualification and may not be eligible to compete in any National Bass West tournaments.


Official boats, including but not limited to our tournament staff boats, will be on the lake for boat inspection and observation during tournament hours. Each team is required to cooperate with all requests.


Each team may weigh-in five (5) fish per day with a minimum of 13 inches in length (or per DFG permit or lake rules). Fish will be measured on a Golden Rule (flat board) with the mouth closed. A penalty of .20 per dead fish will be deducted from the total weight. Any team bringing more than five (5) fish to the scales will be disqualified. Tournament standings will be determined by the total weight for the competition days of the tournament. Only largemouth, spotted, red eye or smallmouth bass will be scored when permitted. Any team weighing in a fish shorter than the legal tournament length will be assessed a one (1) lb. penalty plus the loss of the short fish. Each team is required to leave from and return to a specified checkpoint. Any team returning to the checkpoint late will incur a 1lb penalty per minute up to 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the team will be disqualified. PLEASE DO NOT BE LATE TO THE CHECKPONT. Once you hand your fish to the weigh master, the bass will be weighed and the contestant(s) are done for the day. You must mark your big fish before you get to the scales (preferably with culling balls). You are responsible for letting the weigh master know if you are interested in weighing in a big bass for the event. Contestant(s) cannot handle the fish again once they have been handed to the weigh master.


It is the responsibility of each team to keep no more than a maximum of a legal limit for the particular lake you are fishing in a live well. If more than the legal limit is present in the live well during the event you will be subject to disqualification. You cannot cull a dead fish. You cannot cull in the host marina unless fishing is permitted in the host marina. You cannot cull a fish after checking in at the end of the event. Culling after you have checked in with the check-in boat will result in a disqualification.


No fishing is allowed within 100 feet of the launch ramp of the host marina. All fishing must be done from a previously inspected boat. Boats may not be trailered to and from weigh-in during tournament hours unless under the direction of the tournament director. No fishing is allowed within 25 yards of a non-anchored tournament boat without that boat’s permission unless specified during the tournament meeting by the tournament director. No fishing is allowed within 50 yards of another anchored or tied tournament boat with the trolling motor out of the water without the anchored boat’s permission. Both team partners must fish from the same boat. Only contestants may be in the boat during the tournament hours unless arranged with the tournament director prior to the start of the event. Having a non-contestant sit in a hole for you (save your spot) will not be tolerated. Contestants cannot leave a boat to land a fish. Navigable waters are the only waters to be fished during the tournament. Contestants must be able to drive the boat into the fishing area without getting out of the boat. The practice of restricting the natural movement of fish by any means such as, but not limited to, the use of nets, tanks, or dams will not be tolerated and will result in disqualification. Restricting the access to waters normally accessible by all anglers, by any means such as, but not limited to the falling of trees or the construction of obstructions will not be allowed and will result in disqualification.


Guides are allowed to fish in any and all tournaments provided a tournament contestant does not hire them to fish. Guides are not to be hired by contestants to scout or pre-fish one month prior to any tournament.


Contestants can sign online prior to the event or on site the morning of the tournament. Fishing hours and checkpoints will be disclosed at the registration/start. It is each team’s responsibility to obtain this information from the tournament director. Starting position will be determined on a number draw. For tournament registration please contact region director for current information.


You may pre-fish at anytime up until midnight the day prior for a day tournament and up to 4:00 p.m. on a night tournament. During the tournament, a competitor may not use a CB radio, a VHF marine band radio, a cellular phone, or any other type of communication device for the purpose of locating or catching fish. These devices may be used for emergency purposes only. During the competition day(s) a contestant must not have the assistance or advice from anyone to locate bass except from another contestant in this tournament. Failure to report violations or suggestions to violate these rules will be cause for disqualification. During a two day event the lake is off limits except during tournament hours.


Restricting natural movement of fish by any means such as but not limited to: use of nets, lines, tanks or dams will result in immediate disqualification. Restricting access to waters normally accessible to anglers by any means such as but not limited to: felling of trees or placement of obstructions will result in disqualification. Transporting live game fish taken in one area and releasing them in another area for the purpose of establishing a population in the new area during the practice period, during the tournament, or 30 days prior to the tournament is strictly prohibited and grounds for disqualification. It shall be illegal to “seed” an area with live or dead baitfish or any other type of chum for the purposes of conditioning or congregating fish populations within 14 days of a National Bass West sanctioned event. Such action by participants or third parties acting on behalf of participants shall be grounds for disqualification.


Conservation and safety is the primary concern of National Bass West. Adequate live wells are mandatory on each boat and must provide adequate aeration to maintain fish in good condition.


Once the contestants have passed their sack of fish to the weigh master, the contestant cannot touch the fish again. Any angler may request a one-time immediate “re-weigh” of their fish before leaving the scale area with their sack of fish. Once a sack of fish has left the scale area, the angler loses his right to request a re-weigh and any request of that nature will be denied. The new “re-weigh” weight will be the final weight used for the event. It is the anglers responsibility to mark a "big" to be weighed separately. If your "big" fish is not marked or mentioned prior to weighing your bag, you may not request a re-weigh of an individual fish.


Qualifying for the year end Tournament Of Champions (TOC) will be based on fishing a total of five (5) tournaments in any region. All tournaments must be fished with the same partner. No points may be transferred from one team to another. Each member is allowed to fish two (2) events alone and represent the team providing the team fishes at least three (3) events together. A contestant may fish the first event alone without a designated partner and accumulate points when fishing alone providing the other team member does not participate in that event.


Each region will have a total of 6 events. Your top 5 finishes will accrue points towards the AOY race. If you fish all 6 events in a region, your lowest finish will be dropped. There is a maximum of 200 points awarded to any team per event. Each position after the winning team will be awarded -1 point per position. 1st place=200 points, 2nd place=199 points, 3rd place=198 points etc. Teams must weigh-in a scoreable bass in order to earn points based on their finish position. Teams that are unable to weigh a scoreable bass will earn the 20 point minimum. NEW- the 2024 TOC is a points event towards the AOY race. There will be a maximum of 100 points awarded at the TOC. Each position after the winning team will be awarded -1 point per position. 1st place=100 points, 2nd place=99 points, 3rd place=98 points etc. Teams must weigh-in a scoreable bass in order to earn points based on their finish position. Teams that are unable to weigh a scoreable bass will earn 10 points for participation. There are a maximum points total of 1,000 points per region plus100 points for the TOC for a total of 1,100 points. The anglers of the year in each region will be awarded a custom silver belt buckle.



During tournament hours no contestant shall be under the influence of, or in possession of alcohol or any illegal substance in his or her boat. An infraction of this rule shall result in immediate disqualification for the offending party. No drugs other than prescription will be allowed in the boat or to be consumed while on the water. All local, state and lake laws will be enforced.


If two teams have the same weight at the end of the tournament, the big fish will break the tie. Big fish must be marked prior to handing it to the weigh master. It is the angler’s responsibility to ask to weigh a big bass in at every event. No one other than the weigh master or tournament official may handle the fish after the bag is handed to the weigh master.


Any act or inflammatory statement by any contestant that, in the opinion of the Tournament Authority, is detrimental to the bass tournament, damaging to organized bass fishing, to National Bass West, or any of its staff, sponsors, or to permitting agencies or their officers (such as park rangers, fisheries biologists, or other officials), during the practice rounds or tournament, may result in the temporary or permanent suspension from all future National Bass West events. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH CONTESTANT to know these rules. A rules violation compromises the entire tournament field, not just your partner for the day.


This rule concerns “sight fishing or bedding bass” and is in effect at any time that either of these conditions exists, and is designed to eliminate the illegal snagging of bass. A sight or bedding fish is defined as one that can be seen and is watched as it approaches the lure. Fish being caught under these conditions must be caught by hook and line and by the fish ingesting the lure. Any bass that is caught that is either a “sight” or “bed” fish must be caught “hook in mouth with the hook point entering from inside the mouth”. This catch must be verified as a legal catch by the angler’s in-boat partner. Any “sight” or “bed” fish caught by snagging or with the hook starting outside the mouth shall be deemed an illegally caught fish and must be released. This same fish may be caught again by legal method – with the hook starting from inside the mouth. Any angler catching fish under these conditions without verifying the hook location with the other angler in the boat may be disqualified from the tournament.


For the purpose of these rules the time of sunset will be set by the director. Glow sticks must be worn above the waist starting at sunset. Life vest and kill switch must be worn at all times while the big motor is running until the boat is trailered. Speed limit will be determined by the lake or the tournament director prior to the start of the tournament and announced at the meeting. Additional rules for the night tournaments will be announced at the meeting prior to the tournament.

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