2024 Military Team Bass Tournament Rules

(Updated – October 13, 2023)

The 2024 Military Team Bass Tournament will be held on May 8 – 10, 2024, on Lake Hartwell in Anderson, SC, launching from Green Pond Landing, at 470 Green Pond Rd, Anderson, SC 29625.  

RULES: The following tournament rules shall apply to the Military Team Bass Fishing Tournament operated by American Bass Anglers except, these rules may be changed by American Bass Anglers (ABA) which notice may be published on the ABA internet site at www.militarybassanglers.com.   Interpretation and enforcement of these rules shall be left exclusively to the Tournament Director or his/her designee at the tournament.  In the event of a rule violation, the Tournament Director may impose such sanctions, as deemed appropriate, including, without limitation, disqualification, and forfeiture of prizes, entry fee and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments. The decision of the Tournament Director, his/her designee, shall be final in all matters.  Rules violations must be reported to the Tournament Director on site within 15 minutes after the announcement is made “The scales are now closed”.

PARTICIPANTS AND ELIGIBILITY: Participation is open to all active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, retirees, National Guard, Reserve, and their dependents 16 years of age or older (holding a valid Military ID Card), DOD Civilians and DOD Contractors. Veterans who served and received an Honorable or General discharge and possess a DD-214 are eligible to participate.  Contractors must be under an active DOD contract during the tournament week.  Identification (ID) cards will be checked during the on-site registration.  Teams will be comprised of two anglers both of which must be members in good standings of American Bass Anglers, Inc. (includes any temporary membership) who are 16 years of age or older.  Contestants between 16 and 18 years of age must have a parent or guardian signature prior to entering the tournament.  Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the competitor.  Tournament officials reserve the right to refund any membership and/or entry fee if they choose for any reason not to accept the application and/or entry fee. 

FISHING LICENSE: Competitors must have a valid fishing license for the tournament waters

LIABILITY INSURANCE: During the official practice and competition days of any American Bass Anglers tournament, competitors may not operate a boat unless that contestant has provided ABA documented proof of a minimum of $100,000 per occurrence boating liability insurance (see Participant Release of Liability and Official Entry Forms) covering the boat being used.  Proof of insurance must also be with the boat being used and must cover the competitors using that boat.  Random checks may be conducted at tournament registration and/or at tournament weigh-in and any competitor not in compliance may be disqualified. 

PRE-REGISTERED ENTRIES: It is recommended that contestants pre-register through the American Bass Anglers National headquarters to ensure their reserved slot in the tournament.  Registration will be limited to 250 teams.  Each team member must be a member of American Bass Anglers.  Membership requirements can be satisfied at the same time as registration.  Contestants desiring to register on-site must do so in person during the official registration period.  

REGISTRATION: All pre-registration is accomplished through the national office only.  Teams desiring to register on-site must register in person prior to 12:00 noon local time (pay entry fee plus $25 late fee), Tuesday, May 7, 2024.  One member of each team must attend the mandatory rules and safety briefing on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, at 6 pm local time.  Failure to attend the safety briefing will result in forfeiture of entry fee and the team will not be entered in the tournament.

TEAM COMPOSITION: A team will be comprised of two anglers meeting the requirements as specified in the Participants and Eligibility sections.

ENTRY FEE: The entry fee is $150 per team if registering prior to the entry deadline. After the entry deadline, 22 April 2024, a $25 late fee will be assessed.

BIG BASS POT: A big bass option pot will be available for teams to sign up for during on-site registration.  Do not include this payment with your initial registration.  The option pot will be $30 per team with a 100% payback. 

POLYGRAPH: By his/her signature on the official tournament entry form, each competitor agrees to submit to a polygraph examination/truth verification method or any other type-examination as determined by ABA, and abide by its conclusion should he/she be accused of any rule violation.  In the event of a protest for a rule violation, American Bass Anglers Inc. shall have the discretion to determine the need for a polygraph/truth verification method examination.  The American Bass Anglers, Inc. shall be responsible for selecting an independent expert to administer and interpret the results and establishing, in consultation with the expert administrator, the scope of the questions which may be asked during the polygraph/truth verification method examination.  The American Bass Anglers, Inc. shall attempt to have the location of such polygraph/truth verification method examination as close in proximity to the angler’s permanent address or such other mutually convenient as possible.  The competitor shall make himself/herself available at the location selected by the American Bass Anglers, Inc. and shall cooperate in all respects with such examination.  Anglers taking a polygraph/truth verification method examination may be responsible for all costs incurred.

GUIDES: Individuals who are serving as a licensed guide or are paid for guiding on tournament waters within the previous 30-day period are not eligible to compete in this event

OFF LIMITS: There will be no official off-limit period.  Off-limit areas will consist of those designated by local, state, and federal authorities and within 50 yards of a marina gas pump.  Tournament directors may impose other off-limit areas at their discretion at the time of the pre-tournament meeting.  No contestant may be on tournament waters for the purpose of locating fish or potential fishing waters after daily weigh-ins.  The purchasing of information, the hiring of services, or receiving on the water information from local anglers will not be permitted after (1 March 2024).

SAFETY/BOAT CHECK: Safe boating will be observed always.  Contestants understand that participating in fishing tournaments in an open boat is inherently dangerous.  During the official practice and competition, each competitor is required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved chest type life preserver (PFD).  This preserver must be worn any time the combustion engine is in gear.  This preserver must be strapped, snapped, or zippered securely and maintained in that condition until the combustion engine is shut off.  The boat operator must have a safety-stop switch attached to his/her person when the combustion engine is in gear.  During practice and tournament hours, extreme caution must be exercised by boat operators during bad weather. In addition, extreme caution must be exercised, and boat operators must be aware that there could be large cruisers and/or barges operating on tournament lakes that displace extremely large volumes of water, which create unusually large wakes and turbulence.  Weather and water turbulence can be extremely hazardous and extreme caution should be always exercised.  Violation of either the PFD or safety-stop switch portion of this rule will result in disqualification.

SPORTSMANSHIP: Competitors in ABA tournaments are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation.  Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification.

i.) Use of alcohol or drugs (other than those purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) by any competitor during the official practice or during the tournament will not be tolerated and shall be cause for automatic disqualification from this and all future ABA tournaments.   No alcoholic beverages, other stimulants, or depressants, or otherwise, shall be allowed in the boats during the official practice or competition days or in the weigh-in area.
ii.) Maximum courtesy must be practiced always, especially about boating and angling near non-competitors who may be on tournament waters.  Any act of a competitor which reflects unfavorably upon efforts to promote fisheries conservation, clean waters, and courtesy, shall be a reason for disqualification.
iii.) All competitors are bound by the prevailing statutes and regulations of the state of Georgia.
iv.) Chemical substance addiction or abuse, the conviction of a felony or other crimes involving moral turpitude, 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 after circumstances are reviewed by the Tournament Director.  Any disqualification, suspension from, or other disciplinary action regarding any tournament or fishing organization shall be grounds for rejecting any application for participation in an ABA tournament and/or disqualification from an ABA tournament after circumstances are reviewed by the Tournament Director.

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 of 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 the rules of 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 sponsor shall be considered conduct unbecoming a professional and will result in disciplinary action.

TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT: (Updated) Only artificial lures may be used except for pork trailers and biodegradable soft baits.  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 as a method of fishing is prohibited. Switching or sharing fish with other teams or individuals will result in immediate disqualification. All Bass must be caught alive in a conventional and 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.

HORSEPOWER REGULATIONS: Maximum horsepower for all outboard motorboats used in official tournament practice and in tournament competition will be 250 HP.  Horsepower cannot exceed the limitations set by the U.S. Coast Guard or the manufacturer’s rating plate.  When required, each boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard horsepower rating plate attached to the boat by the manufacturer.  The horsepower of the outboard engine must not exceed the rating specified on this plate nor the horsepower maximum set by ABA.  Each competitor agrees to submit, by their signature on the official entry form, the boat and outboard motor used in the tournament to an inspection by factory-trained personnel if there is any reason to suspect the horsepower is more than boat rating. Normal maintenance of engines is allowed.  Changing or altering standard factory parts of a competitor’s engine to increase the horsepower over the factory horsepower rating is forbidden and will result in disqualification.   Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower-rating numbers on the engine is also cause for immediate disqualification from ABA tournaments.  Posted speed limits must be observed and all boats must be operated in a safe manner.

BOAT AND MOTOR: For the safety of all competitors, during competition, all boats must be equipped with an approved type of operable ignition kill switch and lanyard.  Only one manufactured lanyard may be used and must be attached to the driver’s body any time the combustion engine is in gear.  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.  Fishing boats that are less than 16 feet in length may not be used.  Any raised platforms or decks cannot be higher than the gunnels of the boat. Anglers fishing while standing on the outboard motor or on boat seats are not permitted.  An electric trolling motor may be used for slow maneuvering. However, trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited.  All bladder tanks and any other type of auxiliary gas tanks that are not installed by the boat manufacturer are prohibited.  Additional gas tanks that are factory options and installed by a manufacturer’s authorized dealer are permitted.  Boats that do not have factory-installed gas tanks are restricted to a maximum of 18 gallons of gasoline in tanks that meet U.S. Coast Guard regulations.  Gas tanks must be properly secured or strapped in a boat.  No portable gas tanks or containers capable of holding gasoline can be placed anywhere on the tournament waters or shoreline for use by any tournament competitor.  No “barges” or similar craft will be permitted.  No boat equipped with “Stick Steering” shall be permitted to be used during official practice or during the tournament by any competitor.  

BASIC BOAT EQUIPMENT: During the competition, every boat must have all required US Coast Guard safety equipment as well as a functional bilge pump.  All boats must have live-well space, properly aerated, to adequately maintain alive a limit of bass.  ABA recommends live-wells are maintained at full level and aerators/re-circulators on manual.  Tournament officials shall have the sole responsibility for determining whether aeration and capacity are proper and adequate.

BOAT IDENTIFICATION: Prior to each day’s start, each boat will be inspected by a tournament official.  Each day, each boat will be given a number, which must remain with the boat until turned in each day at the check-in.  This number must be displayed upon the request of tournament officials and turned in to the officials at each check-in.

PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS: Contestants may fish anywhere accessible by boat, except off-limit areas designated by federal, state or local officials, within 50 yards of a marina gas pump or off-limit areas briefed by the tournament director during the mandatory rules and safety briefing.  All angling must be conducted from the boat.  At no time may a member of a team leave the boat to land a fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters.  All contestants must leave and return to the official checkpoint by boat, and the boat must remain in tournament waters during the tournament.  In the case of a breakdown or emergency, contestants may: 1) Be towed in by another boat, 2) a member of the team may enter another contestant’s boat with their fish and ride back to the checkpoint.  A fishing license from either state allows fishing these waters from a boat (note: a GA license is required for fishing upstream from the GA Hwy 109 bridge).

OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT: There shall be only one official point for check-out in the morning and check-in in the afternoon. These points shall be designated at the tournament briefing.  At the time of check-out, all competitors and their boats shall be in full conformity with all rules set forth by the Tournament Director.  At check-in, all boats shall identify themselves by means of the numbers described herein and proceed immediately to the designated weigh-in area.  Anglers not weighing bass may trailer their boat.

TOURNAMENT HOURS: Official start and weigh-in times for each flight will be announced at the pre-tournament briefing. Our best effort will be given to allow at least 8 hours of fishing time.  In the case of adverse weather conditions, the tournament director will open weigh-in at 12 Noon for safety.

SCORING: Tournament standings, auxiliary awards, and final winners shall be determined by the pound-and-hundredth weight of each team catch during the competition days of the tournament.  Only Largemouth and Spotted bass will be weighed.  The limit per team shall be 5 of the above species and varieties per day unless otherwise specified by tournament officials.  At no time shall a competitor have in their possession more than the tournament limit. Tournament officials will conduct checks for violations of this provision, and in the event, a team has in its possession more than the above-described limits, the team will be immediately disqualified.  The official length for all  bass is 12 inches, all measured on a flat board.  Bass presented for weigh-in, which fails to measure the official length, shall result in a penalty of 1 pound for each such bass, which penalty shall be deducted from the total score of the competitor.  Any bass that appears to have been mangled, mashed, mauled, or otherwise altered will be weighed and credited only at the discretion of tournament officials.  After competitors check-in at the official checkpoint, they must present all legal fish in their possession to a tournament official to be counted, measured, and weighed.  Once a competitor’s catch is measured, counted, and verified by a tournament official, that competitor may not return to the boat until their catch has been weighed and recorded.  Bass must not be placed on a stringer at any time during the tournament.  Culling tags or clips are allowed.  Specially designed bags that increase the survival rate will be furnished by the Tournament Director and must be used for the weigh-in.  The official measuring board for this tournament will be the American Bass Anglers/Triton Boats measuring board.

CATCH AND RELEASE: CULLING OF DEAD BASS IS PROHIBITED. A penalty of 1 pound will be deducted from the total weight for each short fish, and a penalty of 8 ounces (.50 pounds) will be deducted from the total weight for each dead fish.  In the event the angler’s big fish is dead, a penalty of 8 ounces (.50 pounds) will be deducted from the big fish’s total weight.  It is suggested in warm weather tournaments, anglers keep extra ice for fish care.  Contestants may purchase ice on the water; however, they are not allowed to receive ice from non-contestants.

TIES: In case of a tie, combining awards and dividing them equally among the tied contestants shall resolve positions.  Big bass weight will be used to break the ties for trophy positions.  The tournament director may decide to break first-place ties with a fish-off.

TRANSFERS/REFUNDS: Entry fees may be transferred or refunded, provided American Bass Angler, Inc. receives notification prior to the entry deadline.  Those entries on the waiting list that are not accepted into the tournament will receive a full refund after the tournament. All refunds will be assessed a 20 percent processing fee.