Qualifier Rules

Updated 1/20/22

American Bass Club (ABC) Rules for the 2022 season. ABC was established for fishermen by fishermen. ABC is all about family, conservation of our sport and promoting fishing for our youth and the hard working American. We support our Veterans and most of all we love the sport of fishing. ABC's number one rule is to have fun and respect others. ABC reserves the right to make needed changes to these rules in order to ensure safety and welfare of the ABC anglers, and or the public and to preserve the integrity of ABC. Any rule changes will immediately supersede all previously published copies of the rules. It is your responsibility to read and fully understand the rules and how you are effected by not complying with the following rules. Every member will be required to sign an affidavit that he/she has read, understands and accepts all ABC rules. All ABC tournaments are team events with all awards going to the team. Anglers may not fish as individuals. A team consist of two(2) anglers, one of which must be designated as the "captain". The team that qualifies for the national championship must fish the national championship. Alternates cannot fish the championship. Only in the event of military deployment or a death of a partner, the tournament director may, after review, approve an alternate partner for the national championship. The designated captain will receive all tax documents at the end of each tournament year. All members must have a valid fishing license and are required to obey all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

INTERPRETATION & ENFORCEMENT • Interpretation of these rules will be left exclusively to the tournament director. In the event of a rule violation, the tournament director may impose penalties such as weight loss, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes and or fines not less than $300, no more than $5000 and ineligibility to participate in any ABC club event. Decisions of the tournament director are final in all matters and are not subject to appeal and are not reviewable by any court of law. Alleged rule violations must be reported to the tournament director immediately. The protestor also agrees with regards to verifying the allegation, he or she may be subject to polygraph exam and agree to testify in a court of law if necessary.

PAYBACK & PARTICIPATION • Payback is based on the number of paid entries for each tournament. Participation is open only to ABC members who are 16 years of age or older. Any person under the age of 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska) entering a tournament must be paired with a partner the age of 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska) and have the signature of a parent or legal guardian in the provided space on the entry form. Any person’s participation in any tournament is at the sole discretion of ABC officials. Any person who, in the judgment of the tournament director, is disabled or handicapped in such a manner as to unfairly hinder his or her captain or angler partner or compromise his or her safety or the safety of other competitors or the boating public may not be eligible to participate. All members must have a valid fishing license for the waters they fish. Random checks will be conducted at each tournament. Failure to provide proof of a valid fishing license within a reasonable amount of time when requested by the tournament director will result in disqualification for that day and any preceding days in which the license was required for the tournament. ABC is designed for the weekend angler and not for Professional level fishermen. A Professional is determined by level of fishing that he or she participates in. If in the past year you have fished in the MLF Cup Events, MLF Red Crest, MLF Bass Pro Tour or the Bass Master Elite Series you are considered a Professional and do not qualify to fish ABC events. ABC reserves the right to refuse membership to any and all events to any individual or team at the discretion of the tournament director.

TEAM ENTRY: The top 40 Teams from each regional qualifier of this calendar year will receive priority entry into the national championship scheduled the next calendar year. Top 5 teams from each regional qualifier of this calendar year will receive free entry into the national championship scheduled the next calendar year. You must fish a regional event to qualify for the nation championship. All regional entry priority will be assigned by the date and time of paid entry. Entry priority will be final once full payment is received. Entries may be made either by mail, phone or on the Internet at americanbassclub.com. Do not make entry by more than one method. Published payouts for each tournament are based on 200 Team entries. ABC may, in its sole discretion, accept entries after the entry/balance deadline for any tournament to even the field. ENTRY FEES ARE NONTRANSFERABLE AND NONREFUNDABLE ONCE ACCEPTED INTO A TOURNAMENT. Entries received after a tournament has filled will be placed on a waiting list. Those teams placed on the waiting list and not accepted into the tournament will receive a full refund after the tournament. CONFIRMED ENTRIES ARE CONTINGENT UPON COMPLETE ENTRY FEE BEING PAID BY THE ENTRY/BALANCE DEADLINE DATE. Entry fees may be transferred or refunded if ABC is notified prior to the entry/balance deadline or event being sold out. ENTRY FEES WILL NOT BE TRANSFERRED OR REFUNDED AFTER THE ENTRY/BALANCE DEADLINE. Any entry balances received after the entry balance deadline (except those called up from the waiting list) will be charged a $50 late fee. 

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: Team entry fees are $2000 per tournament. Deadline is 30 days prior to the first day of the event. Teams must pay entry fee in full to be placed in the tournament. Time of entry into the tournament is based on payment in full for the tournament. Tournaments are only for ABC members in good standing and are first come first serve.

Northern Qualifier

$2,000 due: TBD, 2022 Deadline 30 days prior to the event.

Eastern Qualifier

$2,000 due: TBD, 2022 Deadline 30 days prior to the event.

Central Qualifier

$2,000 due: TBD, 2022 Deadline 30 days prior to the event.

Western Qualifier

$2,000 due: TBD, 2022 Deadline 30 days prior to the event.

Southern Qualifier

$2,000 due: TBD, 2022 Deadline 30 days prior to the event.

PURCHASING OF INFORMATION • The purchasing of, or bartering for, information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters, including but not limited to GPS waypoints (other than through commercially available sources) and the hiring of fishing guide services is not permitted 6 months prior to each tournament. The sharing of tournament winnings with nonparticipants in exchange for information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters is strictly prohibited and will be cause for disqualification from the entire tournament. The purchasing of, or bartering for, fishing locations from another contestant is strictly prohibited and will be cause for both contestants to be disqualified from the entire tournament. 

OFF-LIMITS, PRACTICE & COMPETITION • The official practice period is 6 weeks from the first day of the tournament at qualifying events. All tournament waters are off limits 24 hours before the first day of the tournament. Contestants may not enter tournament waters to locate bass or potential fishing waters or sightsee after 5 PM on Thursday prior to the tournament. Testing equipment on tournament waters after the start of the off limits period is permitted only with prior approval from the tournament director. On days 1 and 2 participants may NOT use the internet to look at the live leader board or to obtain any information pertaining to fishing during the tournament hours. On days 1 and 2, members may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other teams confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are NOT publicly available sources). During competition days and practice, members may not place brush or other physical fish attractors, including chum of any kind, in tournament waters. During competition days and practice, members may not follow a nonparticipants boat or participate in the placing of markers, brush or other fish attractors by nonparticipants. The practice of “hole sitting” by anyone is not permitted. Anyone that is not entered in the ABC event is a nonparticipant. No practice is permitted at night (beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise off-limits) during the event and official practice period. This includes running to and from a fishing location. Members may only practice with ABC members or may practice alone or with another member during the official practice period. Participants may practice with any member of ABC provided the member has also observed the off-limits period and procedures and that member's dues are current and up to date. Members may also practice with an approved media representative. Participants may NOT fish with anyone deemed a Professional as outlined in these rules. Members may fish with nonmembers during the practice period if they are registered in a fishing event outside of ABC during that event only. Flights over tournament waters, including drones, for the express purpose of locating fish or fishing locations are not permitted. Underwater cameras are not permitted during official practice or on tournament days.

REGISTRATION & PRETOURNAMENT MEETING • Each member's annual dues must be current the Wednesday prior to each event. Each Team must register in person at the designated site. In an emergency or due to an ABC sponsor obligation, members may request permission from the tournament director to send a person who is 16 years of age or older to represent them. If permission is granted, nonmembers can represent one person; Members can represent themselves and one other person. This representative must attend the pretournament meeting to record flights, takeoff time, check-in time, off-limits areas, size and creel limits, and any other relevant tournament rule information. This representative must also attend the Team draw immediately following the pretournament meeting to receive the contestant’s boat number. Registration hours are 2-4 p.m. local time the day before each tournament’s start date. Contestants registering between 4-4:15 p.m. will be charged a late fee of $25. Contestants who fail to notify the tournament director and are more than 15 minutes late for registration may forfeit their entry fee and not be entered in the tournament. It is mandatory that all contestants or their representatives attend the pretournament meeting that will be held at 4:30 p.m. local time the day before each tournament. Virtual pretournament meetings may be held in place of in-person meetings when such meetings are not possible. 

SAFETY • Safe boating must be observed at all times. Each contestant is required to wear a fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device anytime the combustion engine is running from boat check until weigh-in each day of the tournament. All boats must have a Non-Inflatable U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for all persons on board. All boats must be equipped with a factory-installed emergency ignition-shutoff device that must be securely attached to the driver’s body with a standard-length, factory tether whenever the combustion engine is running. Teams may fish and charge batteries using an onboard charger by letting the combustion engine idle in neutral only if the boat is equipped with a certified and functioning wireless ignition-shutoff device and everyone in the boat is wearing a fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. All persons must be seated and a driver must be behind the steering wheel in full control of the boat whenever it is on plane or the combustion engine is running and in gear. At the discretion of the tournament director, tournament days may be shortened, postponed or canceled due to unsafe weather or water conditions. Competitors may leave their boat and seek shelter in bad weather or when danger is imminent. They must, however, stay within sight of each other. Contestants involved in boating accidents and/or safety incidents may be required to complete a Boatus.org boating safety course before participating in another ABC tournament. A free course for each state is available at boatus.org. 

SPORTSMANSHIP • All contestants are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy and conservation and to conduct themselves in a manner that will be a credit to themselves, to ABC, ABC's sponsors, the sport of fishing and ABC,s efforts to promote the sport. Conduct not complying with these standards includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Violation of, or failure to comply with, any of the rules for the 2022 season.
  • Consumption and/or possession of alcoholic beverages or any kind of mind-altering substance during registration or tournament hours extending through the weigh-in procedure.
  • Abuse of, or addiction to, mind-altering substances.
  • Conviction of a felony within the past 24 months.
  • Suspension/disqualification, probation or ban from any tournament or fishing organization.
  • Boat operation in an unsafe or unsportsmanlike manner.
  • Violation of a posted no-wake area.
  • Publicly criticizing or questioning the integrity of ABC or ABC officials, including but not limited to ABC rules, policies and procedures.
  • Dissemination of disparaging content or content that one should reasonably know would harm the reputation of ABC, ABC officials or ABC sponsors.
  • Any other words, conduct or actions reflecting unfavorably upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, fair competition and compliance with tournament rules.

In case of any conduct not complying with the standards outlined above, ABC shall have the right to refuse an application to compete, to deny a confirmed application to compete by returning the entry fee (minus deposit), to disqualify a contestant or impose any penalty outlined in these rules.

BOAT OPERATION • Participants may NOT use mobile communication devices, including but not limited to, cell phones, tablets, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc., to look at the live leader board, internet or to communicate with anyone about locating or catching fish on tournament waters during tournament hours. Mobile communication devices may be used during tournament hours to communicate with lockmasters about locking, to communicate with the tournament director or to communicate with ABC editors or producers. Teams may use smart phones and/or tablets during tournament hours for GPS, mapping, weather, power generation, barge traffic updates, tidal charts, personal fishing notes and related data. At no time during tournament hours may participants read or discuss social media posts from other participants. Teams are expected to compete every day for which they are entered or qualify for; failure to do so may result in ineligibility to compete in future ABC tournaments. If a special circumstance arises that inhibits a team's ability to compete, the tournament director may allow a team to withdraw from competition and maintain the weight caught to that point. Depending on the need to maintain an equal number of teams, the next highest team in the tournament standings may be invited to continue competition.  


BOAT & HORSEPOWER REGULATION • All boats must be propeller-driven, a minimum of 16 feet in length and have a rear deck. All boats must be equipped with wheel steering; no other steering device will be permitted. No barges or similarly cumbersome craft will be permitted. Each boat must have all required U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment. Boats must contain a properly aerated livewell space to maintain alive a limit catch of bass. Maximum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition will be 250 horsepower, not to exceed the horsepower capacity set forth on the “Maximum Capacities” placard described below. Each boat must have a clearly legible “Maximum Capacities” (or comparably titled) placard that includes a maximum horsepower rating affixed to the boat by the manufacturer. The horsepower of the outboard engine must not exceed the maximum horsepower capacity specified on this placard or the 250-horsepower maximum set by ABC. By signing the entry form, members agree to submit their boat and/or motor to an inspection by ABC personnel. Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower numbers on the motor or rating placard will be cause for disqualification from the tournament and may result in ineligibility to compete in future ABC tournaments. Fishing platforms must be factory-installed equipment or commercially available aftermarket equipment that is permanently installed in the boat. No portable platforms may be used in tournament competition. Fuel may be carried only in factory-installed (built-in) fuel tanks. Any additional fuel used during the tournament day must be purchased from a retail facility open to the public and pumped through a hose with a nozzle. The use of generators, other than solar or wind-powered generators, is prohibited in contestant boats during tournament hours on all competition days.

PERMITTED FISHING METHODS • Fishing is defined as having a lure attached to a line and a rod and reel with the rod in hand. All bass must be caught alive in a conventional sporting manner. All lures must adhere to state regulations. Only artificial lures may be used, with the exception of pork trailers and biodegradable soft baits. Alabama rigs and similar umbrella-type rigs are NOT allowed. Only ONE fishing rod may be used at a time. Trolling as a method of fishing is strictly prohibited. Trolling is defined as operating the combustion engine to extend a cast or lengthen a retrieve. All bass caught while sight-fishing must be hooked inside the mouth. ABC is committed to conservation and the well being of the fish. Netting of fish is NOT allowed and nets are not allowed on the boats during the ABC event. It is the responsibility of the anglers to make sure the fish are well cared for. ABC requires all members to make all attempts to keep fish off the carpet and release fish as fast as possible. In the event of catching fish out of deep water or where anglers recognize a fish is stressed. It is the responsibility of all anglers to (FIZ) their catch if necessary prior to release. ABC tournament director may at anytime request proof of fizzing device from any team in the tournament.

PERMITTED FISHING • Members may fish anywhere on tournament waters available to the public and accessible by boat except areas posted or otherwise designated as “off-limits,” “no boats,” “keep out,” “restricted,” “no trespassing” or “no fishing” (or similar language or markings intended to restrict public access) by ABC, commercial property owners and/or local, state or federal officials, or within 50 yards of a members boat that was first anchored. An anchored boat is a boat held in a stable position by a line attached to a weight or by a Power-Pole or similar shallow water anchor with the trolling motor in the up position. All fishing must be conducted from the boat. At no time may a member leave the boat to land a fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. The cutting of trees, bushes and/or logs after the start of the pretournament meeting and/or the removal of official commercial, local, state or federal barricades at any time to make an area more accessible by boat or gain access for fishing is strictly prohibited and may result in disqualification from the tournament. The use of cables, ropes, chains or any type of block and tackle system to maneuver a boat into fishing waters is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification from the tournament. Participants must leave and return to the check-in by boat. The boat must remain in the tournament waters during the tournament day. No tournament boat may be loaded on a trailer before the weigh-in except with the permission of the tournament director. 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 the check-in: (1) by teams remaining in their boat and being towed by water, or (2) with permission from the tournament director, by both team members entering the boat of another team member. Under these two conditions both teams’ catches may be counted without a penalty (except for late penalties, dead-fish penalties or other penalties pertaining to other tournament rules). Members who elect to return to the check-in by any other means than cited above 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. Any member returning to the check-in point will be eligible to restart and resume competition under the supervision of the tournament director or a designated tournament official. It is the sole responsibility of the member to locate the tournament director to request a restart. Partners must remain together at all times and within sight of each other until the weigh-in verification. The momentary condition of being out of sight of each other for restroom breaks is permitted. 

CHECKPOINTS • There will be only one checkpoint for boat check in the morning and one check-in point in the afternoon. Failure to go through boat check in the morning or failure to check in at the check-in point in the afternoon will result in disqualification. All fishing must cease upon check-in.

LATE PENALTY • Teams who are not at the check-in area at the appointed time will be penalized 1 pound per minute, deducted from the total weight, including any weight to be counted toward the Big Bass Award. Any Teams more than 15 minutes late will lose credit for that day’s weight.

LIVE FISH • ABC is dedicated to conservation. All fish are to be scaled using the Connect Scale digital scale system with release grip (NO HOOKS) and Connect Scale App. Anglers are required to take a photo of each catch on the Bump Board to display length then scale the catch with the Connect Scale. The Connect Scale App must have the GPS location turned on for every catch entered into the tournament. If the GPS location is not turned on or the picture is not attached that catch will not be permitted and will be removed from the team catch total. After data is compiled fish are to be immediately released. Every effort must be made to keep bass alive through the use of a properly aerated live-well during the data retrieval process. In the event there is an issue with your scale or connected devise you must contact the director immediately for alternate instructions.

SCORING • Scoring is determined by the pounds and ounces of each team’s catch during each tournament. Only largemouth, spotted, redeye or smallmouth bass are accepted species. No regurgitated forage or other foreign matter may be placed in a bass. The daily limit will be five bass unless conditions dictate a reduced limit for conservation purposes or the state or lake limit is less than five, in which the reduced limits will prevail. Bass are considered in possession once placed in the boat. The minimum length limit for bass will be 12 inches unless the state or lake limit is more than 12 inches or ABC sets a longer limit for a specific tournament, in which case, the state or lake limit or longer limit set by ABC for the tournament will prevail.

TIES • The heaviest one-day catch for the tournament will break ties on day 2. If a tie remains, it will be broken first by total number of fish for the tournament and then by lottery.

LOGO DISPLAY & MEDIA COVERAGE • During all days of competition any and all tobacco logos are prohibited and may not be worn or displayed. Anglers may wear their own apparel every day. ABC reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to prohibit any angler’s apparel that it finds to be offensive. Smoking, vaping or any other smokeless devices are not allowed in the weigh-in line during all days of competition. All decisions are at ABC’s sole discretion.

Polygraph • Each member agrees to submit, by signature on the tournament entry form, to a polygraph or voice stress analysis examination and to abide by its conclusion. Failure to pass an examination will result in disqualification from the tournament and forfeiture of any winnings. Members that fail a polygraph will be fined a minimum of $5000 and will be subject to legal ramifications. Truth verification tests will be used at ABC’s sole discretion, and the determination of the meaning of the results will be made solely by ABC. If any angler receiving winnings, leaves without the tournament directors permission or refuses to take a polygraph exam, he or she will forfeit any and all winnings and be permanently banned from any ABC club and events.

INSURANCE • Liability insurance with coverage of not less than $300,000 per occurrence is required of all members in any ABC event. Proof of insurance must be with the boat being used and must cover all passengers in the boat. Random checks will be conducted. Failure to provide proof of insurance when requested by the tournament director may result in disqualification. All members will be required to submit a liability waiver along with the team's entry form.