2024 American Fishing Tour Rules

Updated (10/16/2023)

The following rules shall apply to all American Bass Anglers American Fishing Tour tournaments during the 2024 season.  These rules may be changed by American Bass Anglers (ABA) at any time upon notification to its members, which will be published on the ABA website at www.americanbassanglers.com.  Interpretation and enforcement of these rules will be left exclusively to the Tournament Director and ABA officials.  


1.    ENTRY FEE:  Entry fee for Divisional Qualifying events will be $70.00.  Entry Fee for Divisional Championships will be $140.00.  The entry fee for the National Championship is $170.00.  Entry deadline date without paying a late fee will be ten (10) days prior to the event.  Entries received after the entry deadline date will be assessed a $5.00 late fee.  Entry fees will only be refunded and/or transferred if notification is made to ABA Tournament Department prior to WEDNESDAY 5 pm CST, prior to the scheduled event, NO EXCEPTION.  There will be a $20.00 processing fee per tournament for refunds.  Late Fee Exemptions at events are new or renewing members, active-duty military, life members, visiting directors, the assistant director for that division, and 2022 frequent fishermen anglers ONLY. 

2.    REGISTRATION:  It is recommended that contestants pre-register through National headquarters.  Contestants desiring to register at the ramp must do so during the official registration period which is defined as 1 and ½ hours preceding 5am local time or the time established by the local tournament director.  Once the Safety and Rules briefing begins no tournament entries can be accepted.  Failure to attend the pre-tournament meeting of any ABA tournament will result in forfeiture of entry fee and disqualification from the tournament in question. 


a.    Participation is open to current members of American Bass Anglers, Inc., who are 18 years of age or older.  Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the competitor.   
b.    As a condition of participation in ABA tournament, competitors must execute a “Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk” form.  Tournament officials reserve the right to refund any membership and/or entry fee, if they shall choose for any reason not to accept the application for entrance. 
c.    During official practice and competition days, no competitor may operate a boat unless that contestant has current documented proof of a minimum of $100,000 boating liability insurance on the boat being used.  Proof of insurance must be with the boat being used and must cover the competitor using the boat.  Random checks will be conducted.  

4.    SAFETY: Safety is paramount, and anglers must recognize that; Fishing from an open boat is inherently dangerous, and as a result American Bass Anglers seeks to limit those hazards with reasonable safety rules. 

a.    Safe boat conduct and speed limits must always be observed by competitors.  Anglers must realize that riding in an open boat is inherently dangerous, and all safety precautions must be adhered to.  During official practice and competition, competitors must always wear a US Coast Guard-approved chest-type life preserver when the combustion engine is in gear.  This life preserver must also be strapped, snapped, or zippered securely.  Violation of this rule shall be reason for disqualification.  “Fanny Pack” preservers are not allowed.  In the event a boat is being towed, all anglers in the towed boat must wear a life preserver.
b.    Tournament officials may delay, shorten, restrict tournament waters, or cancel the start of an official tournament day due to bad weather or other factors that would endanger the safety of the competitors.  
c.    In the event of an emergency, competitors should call 911 immediately and then notify tournament officials.  Competitors may leave the boat and seek safe shelter in bad weather conditions when danger may be imminent, at which time all fishing must cease.  

5.    SPORTSMANSHIP/CODE OF CONDUCT: Anglers participating in an ABA sanctioned event shall observe this code of conduct and the applicable rules for the specific event in which he/she is participating.  Anglers shall, always conduct themselves in a manner becoming a professional.  Anglers’ actions will not reflect unfavorably on ABA, 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 bass fishing.  Any angler who violates any of the provisions of the Angler Code of Conduct will be subject to fines, forfeiture of tournament winnings, probation, suspension from competing in ABA sanctioned events, permanently banned from competition, or any combination thereof deemed appropriate by ABA. Competitors are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation. 

a.    Courtesy: Maximum courtesy must always be practiced, especially regarding boating and angling near non-competitors.  Any act of a competitor which reflects unfavorably upon ABA or efforts to promote water safety, fisheries conservation, clean waters, and courtesy, will be reason for disqualification. 
b.    Harassment of competitors or non-competitors of any kind during any Event, or any Official Practice period will not be tolerated and will result in immediate sanctions and refusal of entry.
c.    Laws: All competitors are bound by the prevailing statutes and regulations of the state(s) within which the tournament is being held which include a valid fishing license.  Both boater and non-boater are required to have valid fishing license for all tournament waters established by the director.  
d.    Drug/Alcohol: The use, possession or consumption of illegal drugs or alcohol during official practice, tournament hours or during pre- and post-tournament activities will be cause for automatic disqualification.  Chemical substance addiction or abuse, crimes involving moral turpitude, the conviction of a felony not specifically exempted by ABA, or other conduct reflecting unfavorably upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, fair competition, and compliance with tournament rules shall be grounds for rejecting any application for participation and/or for disqualification.  
e.    Disciplinary Action: Any disqualification, suspension from or disciplinary action imposed by any fishing organization(s) will be grounds for rejecting any application for membership and/or participation in a tournament and/or disqualification from a tournament after circumstances are reviewed by the Tournament Director. 
f.    Media Comments/Public Attacks: The favorable public reputation of ABA as a sanctioning organization in the sport of fishing, the integrity of its officials, and the reputation of its media properties are valuable assets and tangible benefits for ABA.  Accordingly, it is an obligation of competitors to refrain from comments to the news media that unreasonably attack or disparage the integrity of tournaments, tournament officials, sponsors, fellow members, fellow anglers, or the ABA organization.  Competitors are encouraged to express themselves and have the right to question rules officials.  Responsible expressions of legitimate disagreement with ABA policies are encouraged as opposed to attacks upon the integrity of the rules or officials.  However, public comments that an angler knows, or should reasonably know, will harm the reputation of ABA, ABA officials or sponsors shall be considered conduct unbecoming an ABA angler and will result in disciplinary action.  

6.    PRE-TOURNAMENT PRACTICE/OFF-LIMITS:   There will be no official practice or off-limits period except for the National Championship.  No contestant may enter the tournament water for the purpose of catching or locating possible fishing locations after day one weigh-in of multiple day tournaments.  Off-limits areas will be designated and explained at the pre-tournament meeting by the tournament director.  During official competition day(s), a competitor may not use a CB radio, a VHF marine-band radio, a cellular phone, texting, or any other type of communication device for the purpose of locating or catching fish.  Competitors are permitted to transmit by radio or telephone only in the event of an emergency.  If cell phone is used, it must be in speaker mode and the co-angler must be allowed to hear the conversation.  Non-Boaters are not allowed to use portable GPS units during tournament hours. 
7.    RULES VIOLATION:  In the event of a rule violation, ABA may impose such sanctions, as deemed appropriate, including, without limitation, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes and/or entry fee, probation, and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments.  The decision of the ABA shall be final in all matters.  Each competitor agrees to report to the Tournament Director any violation or infraction of any Tournament Rules.  Failure to report violations, or suggestions to another competitor that an angler violated a rule will be cause for disqualification.  Rules violations must be reported to the Tournament Director in writing within 15 minutes after the announcement “The scales are closed”. 

8.    Polygraph:    By his/her signature on the official entry form, each competitor agrees to submit to a polygraph examination as determined by ABA and abide by its conclusion.  The Tournament Director and ABA officials will have the discretion to determine the need for a polygraph examination.  In the event ABA officials determine that a polygraph is required, the angler(s) will make themselves available at a predetermined time and place.  In the event a competitor refuses to take or fails to pass the examination, he/she will be disqualified from the event in question and other disciplinary action taken as deemed appropriate by ABA officials.  

9.    PROFESSIONALS:   Individuals who have fished two or more tournaments as a designated Professional in a Pro/Am event requiring an individual entry fee of $675 or more in the preceding six months are not eligible to fish.  This rule does not apply to Amateur status anglers. 

10.    GUIDES:  Individuals who are serving as a licensed guide on tournament waters or are paid for guiding on tournament waters within the previous 30-day period are not eligible to compete in American Bass Anglers, Inc., events on that lake(s). 

11.    TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT:  Only artificial lures may be used. No “live bait” or “prepared bait” is permitted during official practice and competition.  Only one rod and reel combination may be used at one time.  No fly rods or rods over 8 feet are allowed. Trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited.  All bass must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner.  All angling must be done from the boat, anglers are not permitted to leave the boat to land a fish or to gain access to secluded waters.  Competitors must leave and return to the official checkpoint by boat.  Both competitors must always remain in the boat except in case of dire emergency.  

12.    HORSEPOWER REGULATION:   MAXIMUM HORSEPOWER FOR ALL OUTBOARD MOTORBOATS USED IN ABA TOURNAMENT PRACTICE AND COMPETITION WILL BE 250 HP.  The horsepower of the outboard engine must not exceed the U.S. Coast Guard or Manufacturer’s horsepower-rating plate nor the horsepower maximum set by American Bass Anglers.  Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower-rating numbers on the engine will be cause for immediate disqualification from American Bass Anglers, Inc., tournaments. 

13.    BOAT AND MOTOR:   ALL BOATS MUST BE EQUIPPED WITH SOME TYPE OF IGNITION STOP SWITCH.  Any time the combustion engine is operating and in gear, there must be a driver in the driver’s seat in full control of the boat and have the ignition-kill device attached to his/her body.  External fuel tanks (add-on) are not permitted.  Fishing boats less than 16 feet in length, barges, cumbersome craft, boats equipped with “stick steering” or boats without a steering wheel are not permitted.

Each boat must have a properly operating aerated or re-circulating live-well to maintain a limit catch of bass alive by both contestants.  Boaters are required to provide a back-fishing seat for co-anglers.  MECHANICAL BREAKDOWN:  In the event of a mechanical breakdown one or both anglers may board another competitor’s boat only and ride to the weigh-in with their catch.  In the event boater is alone he may have another competitor in the event only bring his catch to weigh-in.  Mechanical Breakdown does not extend tournament time. 

14.    BOAT OPERATION:  A registered boater will be expected to make their boat available for that tournament. Boater and Non-Boater are to discuss the sharing of time on fishing locations prior to launch, as each are entitled to equitable time on their waters. It is the Non-Boater responsibility to pay half of the fuel cost of the day, failure to do so may result in disqualification and refusal of future entry fees.  Boaters are to fish from the front deck, and Non-boater from the rear deck, unless invited otherwise. Any contestant who, in the judgment of the tournament director, operates the boat in such a manner as to unfairly handicap their partner shall be disqualified.

15.    PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS:   The tournament Director shall establish tournament waters at the tournament briefing and define any known OFF-LIMITS areas including locking.  Fishing is not permitted within 50 yards of a marina gas pump, or any waters posted Off-Limits or No Fishing by state or federal agencies.  No fishing within 50 yards of another competitor’s boat anchored or not. 

16.    OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT:   There will be only one official point for check-out in the morning and check-in in the afternoon, as designated by the tournament director.  Competitors not at the checkpoint at the designated time will be penalized at the rate of 1 pound per minute to be deducted from their total weight for the day.  Contestants more than 15 minutes late for weigh-in will not be allowed to weigh their fish but will receive show points.  The official start and weigh-in times will be announced at the pre-tournament meeting.  In the case of adverse weather conditions, the tournament director will open weigh-in at 12 noon. 

17.    SCORING:   The total weight of each competitor’s catch will determine tournament standings and placement.  Only largemouth, spotted, red eye or smallmouth bass will be weighed.  The creel limit shall be five (5) unless the prevailing state/lake limit is less.  At no time shall a competitor have in his/her possession more than the tournament limit except when culling.  Culling must be done immediately upon catching a sixth fish. CULLING OF DEAD FISH IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.  The minimum length will be 12 inches (measured on a flat board) unless the prevailing state/lake minimum length is larger.  A penalty of 1 pound will be deducted from the total weight for each short fish and that fish will not be weighed and a penalty of .5 pounds will be deducted from the total weight for each dead fish.  In the event the anglers’ big fish is dead a .5 pounds penalty will be deducted from the big fish weight.  Anglers observed with more than the allowable limit in their boat or who present more than the allowable limit at weigh-in will have their catch culled down to the tournament limit beginning with the largest fish.  Mangled, mashed, mauled, or otherwise altered fish will be weighed only at the discretion of the tournament director.  Fish will not be put on a stringer at any time.  All fish presented at the weigh-ins become the property of American Bass Anglers.  

18.    PAIRING:   Assignments of partners will be by open draw.  Pairing of contestants (boater/non-boater) will be accomplished the morning of the event.  Only non-boater members paying an entry fee and paired with a boater is authorized to be in any boat, ride along personnel is not permitted.  Any contestant refusing to take or go with another contestant in his/her boat will be subject to immediate disqualification.  The tournament director may reassign partners prior to morning ooze-off due to boater equipment breakdowns.  

19.    TIE:
Ties will be broken using the following criteria: 

a.    Largest number of legal fished weighed.
b.    Largest number of legal live fish weighed.  
c.    If the tie is not broken by applying the foregoing procedures, place monies will be divided, and place points will be awarded accordingly.  Event winners’ tiebreaker may result in a fish-off. 

20.    ANGLER OF THE YEAR PROGRAM: The number of Anglers qualifying for the Angler of the Year program will be determined by the Divisions yearly participation average.  Anglers qualifying for the Angler of the Year competition will compete against other qualifiers during the National Championship for the overall title “Angler of the Year”.  The number of anglers will be determined by the following criteria: 

a.    All divisions top points holder (Division Angler of the Year) will advance to the Championship Angler of Year program.
b.    Divisions averaging 20 or more anglers may submit one additional angler (total of two). The additional angler must be second place by points, no substitutions will be allowed. 
c.    Divisions averaging 30 or more anglers may submit two additional finalists (total of three). The two additional anglers must be second and third place by points, no substitutions will be allowed.
d.    Divisions averaging 40 or more anglers may submit three additional anglers (total of four). The three additional anglers must be second, third and fourth place by points, no substitutions will be allowed.
e.    Divisions averaging 50 or more anglers may submit four additional anglers (total of five). The four additional anglers must be second, third, fourth and fifth place by points, no substitutions will be allowed. 

In the event there is a tie for 1st place points, Director will resolve the tie breaker using the following criteria: 

a.    1st – Total weight for the year 
b.    2nd – Total number of legal live fish weighed for the year 
c.    3rd – If the tie is not broken by applying the foregoing procedures, a fish-off will be scheduled by the tournament director.  In the event a fish-off is required, all ABA rules apply.  If one of the tied competitors declines to participate in the fish-off, the Angler of the Year title will go to the other angler.   


a.    One-day – One-day divisional qualifying tournaments are worth 200 points.  Maximum points are awarded for a minimum of 20 contestants.  For tournaments with less than 20 contestants, 1 point per person short of the minimum will be deducted from the total points available.  Points will be awarded in 1-point decrements depending on place of finish.  No contestant weighing a fish in the tournament will receive less than 150 points regardless of place of finish.  All contestants not weighing fish will receive 100 show points.  A contestant may fish as many one-day tournaments for point accumulation, but only the best four tournament finishes will be counted.  
b.    Two-day – Two-day divisional Championships are worth 400 points. Maximum points are awarded for a minimum of 20 contestants.  Points will be awarded in 2-point decrements depending on place of finish.  For tournaments with less than 20 contestants, 2 points per person short of the minimum will be deducted from the total points available.  No contestant weighing a fish in the tournament will receive no less than 300 points, and 200 points will be awarded to those not weighing fish.  A contestant may fish multiple 2-day Divisional Championships, however only their best two-day finish will be counted.  
c.    Requirements – Contestants must have fished a minimum of four (4) one day tournaments to be eligible to compete in a 2-day Divisional Championship.  To qualify for the National Championship anglers must have fished four (4) one-day tournaments and one (1) two-day tournament.  
d.    National Championship – The National Championship is worth 2000 points, and points will be awarded in 5 point decreasing increments by place of finish.  There will be two winning positions, 1) – Tournament winner and 2)- Angler of the year.  

23.    NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP:    The top 500 national point holders plus 30 Active-Duty Military will be invited to compete in the National Championship.  If one or more of the top 500 do not accept the invitation, the remaining slots will be filled from a waiting list of qualified anglers by points.  

Boaters: The top 250 anglers Nationally by points, will have the opportunity to register as a boater and be guaranteed use of their boat, registration will begin on July 19, 2024.  Anglers in the top 250 by points standings must confirm their intent to attend by registering not later than September 23, 2024, to secure their boater position.  After September 23, 2024, if any of the top 250 points holders have not registered, the remaining boater slots will be filled from a waiting list of qualified and pre-registered boaters by points.  

Non-Boaters: ABA will take registrations for non-boater’s slots from qualified anglers by points, until 250 non-boater slots have been filled, registration will begin on July 1, 2024.   Anglers in the top 250 by points standings must confirm their intent to attend by registering not later than September 25, 2024, to secure their non-boater position.  After September 25, 2024, if one or more of the top 250 non-boaters have not registered, the remaining boater slots will be filled from a waiting list of qualified and pre-registered non-boaters by points.  

Divisional AOY: Divisional Points Leaders will compete within the National Championship event for American Bass Anglers Angler of the Year (see Paragraph 20).  
Special Notes: No angler will be allowed to win more than one boat in any calendar year.  The Championship Lake will be off limits approximately 15 days prior to the first official practice day.  All tournament information pertaining to the Championship will be published on the ABA website NLT July 1, 2024. 

24.    TAXES:  Where and when state laws require, income tax may be automatically deducted prior to any awards being presented.  Anglers are responsible for all applicable taxes for both cash and merchandise awards.