Orange County Bassmasters

Tournament Rules & Guidelines

Last Updated 3/2012

Amended 3/2015 to include II Partners F) Guest Policy

Revision History: 4/93: Section IX.F added, pertaining to carry over penalty. 4/95: Section XII.B material moved to separate document since the information is helpful tips and might be modified frequently.

I. Notification of Tournament Participants

A) Members notify the tournament chairman or designee, directly or indirectly, of his wish to participate in a given tournament. Notification must be received by the tournament chairman (or designee) before the partner match-up begins for the given tournament.  Each member must indicate whether he prefers to fish as a boater or non-boater.

II. Partners

A)    The luck of the draw will determine partners.

B)     The tournament chairman shall attempt to minimize repeat pairings of boater/non-boater members, exchanging pairings in a tournament draw before final where there are pairings combinations that have not been duplicated in prior tournaments.

C)     In the tournament draw, there shall never be more than one non-boater paired to fish with a boater member per tournament day.   

D)    In the event that there are more boaters than non-boaters submitted to fish a given tournament date, the pairings luck-of-the-draw process will result in having the excess boaters fish as loan boaters for that tournament date. 

E)     If the roll-call for a given tournament draw (before pairings) has more non-boater versus boater submissions, the tournament chairman (or designate) will execute the following sequence of steps to determine the most equitable output for the situation:

1)      All non-boater members registered for the draw will be asked if they have access to a tournament-approved boat and if they would be willing to fish as a boater for the given date.    If such a non-boater member does come forward with this assistance, they will compete for points and payouts with the non-boaters bracket.

2)      By a luck-of-the-draw method, one non-boater member for each short boater count will be chosen from all registered non-boaters for the tournament date to be wait listed for the tournament.  In the event that non-boater(s) drop out prior to the tournament, the non-boater will be re-instated to fish in the spot vacated.    Note: The tournament director will keep record of every non-boater that has ‘not fished’ a tournament due to a boater/non-boater drawn imbalance.  Every attempt will be made to ensure that a non-boater will never be wait listed more than once during a club year, making it as equitable as possible across the non-boater membership.

3)      Partners paired for a given tournament will make contact no later than 7pm ET on evening before the morning (or day in case of night tournament) of the tournament date to ensure that plans are confirmed for traveling together, pickup locations, pickup times and/or any other agreements.   Members shall exchange cell phone numbers at this time as well. 

4)     If any unexpected emergency arises at any time up until the tournament launch, the member shall contact by cell phone their paired tournament partner and the tournament chairman to let both persons know of the emergency situation and determine a recovery plan to handle the situation or confirm the drop-out of the angler with the emergency.  In the event that such an emergency creates the condition of a non-boater being stranded at the tournament launch before tournament blast off, the angler may be asked required to forfeit the tournament unless a boater volunteers their boat to take on the 3rd angler under careful consideration of the their boat’s safety, room-to-fish, room-for-equipment, total weight capacity, and fish care capacity for the potential situation of 3 adults boarded.

F)  Guest Fishing Policy:   Member boaters who are confirmed as a “loan boater” for a given draw tournament for which no member or waiting-list member candidate is paired, may register a non-member guest that they desire to fish with for the given tournament.   The guest person’s name must be announced by the boater and committed by the boater before the meeting draw pairing officially concludes.    In the event that any situation occurs leading up to the tournament event/launch where a committed boater drops out and exposes a member non-boater member to boatless,  the guest position will be relinquished and transferred to the member in jeopardy.   Guests are required to pay $5 as a six man team donation and can optionally participate in Calcutta and Lunker pools.

III. Launch Site

A) The tournament schedule will be available to all members for approval no later than the April meeting.

B) Tournaments shall be a minimum of 8 hours.  The starting time, generally associated with sunrise, will be determined by the Tournament Chairman.  Later starting times may be considered due to DEC restrictions, excessive travel time, or for night tournaments.

C) Boats must be in the water at least 15 minutes before the official starting time. All boats should be at the launch site at least 30 minutes before tournament starting time, so that provisions can be made for unforeseen problems or late comers.

D) The tournament has officially begun after the 1st boat is allowed to leave the launch area. Late comers may still fish, but only after they have physically (in person) met with another member on the water for routine livewell check and official weigh-in time.

E) There will be a $10 penalty for any member who is late or does not show at a tournament unless the member has informed his partner or the Tournament Director, prior to the tournament.  Exceptions shall be considered by the tournament committee in the event of an unanticipated emergency.

F) The Tournament Director may delay launch time or propose a close alternative site, in the event of unsafe conditions.  In the event conditions do not improve, a tournament may be postponed to a date coordinated by the Tournament Director.

G) There will never be more than 2 anglers paired per boat as part of the official tournament draw. Three (3) anglers in 1 boat can be considered on a voluntary bases for the at launch lone non-boater emergency situations.  Please read section III.E.4 above for the exception handling process to be followed for at launch lone non-boater situations.

H) Calcutta and Lunker fees shall be collected before launching and no entry into calcutta and lunker after 15 minutes prior to the start of the tournament.


IV. Tournament Boats

A) Is defined as: a boat no less than 16’ in length and 48" in beam.  Canoes do not qualify.

B) Must have an aerated livewell.  A 20 gallon cooler and aerator bilge pump is an acceptable substitute.

C) Must have an electric trolling motor and may have a combustion engine.

D) Combustion engines must comply with Coast Guard Regulations and must have a kill switch, and are limited to the maximum horsepower rated for the boat and not exceed 250HP.

E) Boats must be registered and boat owners must be insured with $300,000 minimum liability before being eligible for tournament use.  Contact the Tournament Director for the minimum policy guidelines which exist for the tournament season.

F) Must have fish length measuring device on board.

G) Are recommended to carry Jungle Formula or similar substance for preservation of fish.

H) Must carry the following for Intercoastal Waterways, 16-22ft. boats.

1) Personal floatation device for each person.

2) Throwable cushion or ring.

3) 50 feet of rope

4) Fire extinguisher.

5) Paddle.

6) Horn, whistle, siren - audible for 1 mile.

7) Distress signal - Day only - Flags - Day or Night - Flare gun

8) Complete lights - Green/red on bow -White on stern

9) anchor

V. Courtesy

A) We recognize that individual members have different fishing styles and techniques, and therefore boat position may be determined by either partner for At LEAST ONE HALF OF TOURNAMENT PERIOD, if he so chooses and expresses his right.  Fishing time is important for each member and each should be given the chance to enjoy it to the fullest.

B) Claims of incompatibility should be registered with the tournament director at the tournament site, with the partner present.  Discussion will take place briefly at the next meeting, or can be taken up in detail at an advisory council meeting.

VI. Tournament Fees

A) Launch fees shall be split between partners, if applicable.

B) Non-boaters should be prepared to contribute 50% of the tournament day expenses incurred by the boater related to fuel and toll expenses incurred ( boat towing fuel, boat travel fuel/oil ) and are advised to ride with the boater to and from the tournament water body to minimize any excessive travel expenses they might incur independently to arrive at the fishery.

C) Members pay $20 per tournament entered (with $5 of the funds going to 6MT contribution and the $15 going to winners pool for top 3 spots).    Lunker pool is additional and optional is $5 per angler.  Calcutta pool is $10 per boat and is optional.   

·         Any guest participants confirmed in the draw that are not members must pay $5 towards 6MT contribution and optionally can participate in the lunker and Calcutta pools.

D) Lunker and Calcutta fees are excluded from the club membership and tournament entry fees collected annually and are paid separately at the tournament launch to a designated collector named at the tournament draw meeting.  Lunker and Calcutta entry payments must be made in full to the collector  no later than 15 minutes prior to the official tournament start time and off-water when possible.


VII. Guidelines

A) Members should be considerate of others on any body of water, fish safely, display unquestionable conduct, and good intent at all times, i.e. boat wakes, no littering, no throwing of cigarette butts or lure parts in water, etc..  No alcoholic beverages or drugs are allowed, with the exception of prescription drugs and/or headache/cold/pain relievers.

B) Since we are sport fishermen, we value the life, health and habitat of game fish.  Therefore, federal and state regulations and environmental protection must be second nature to all members at ALL times.  Please do not litter (includes fishing line & lures) and remember that YOU represent not only Orange County Bassmasters of NYS BASS Chapter Federation.  YOU represent ALL fisherman!!! Setting a respectable example to observers should be a top priority of EVERY one of us at all times.


VIII. Tournament Rules

A) We are a lure-only club. Only one bait may be in the water at any one time, though many rods may be rigged differently for successive use. Tandem baits are allowed (e.g. Jig and Pork frog, double Fin-S rig, Alabama Rig, etc. ).

B) Life vests must be worn and zipped and the kill switch must be connected any time the combustion engine is operating.

Note: In the event a kill switch malfunctions during a tournament, the boat will be beached or docked until a fix can be affected.  A trolling motor may be used to complete the tournament.

C) Any rod less than or equal to 8’ may be used. (Cast, spincast or spinning)

D) Trolling and chumming are prohibited as well as gang or snare hooking.

E) Any anchored tournament boat has a "KEEP CLEAR" space of 25 yards, and must have its trolling motor out of the water.

F) Boats fishing near gas pumps must not obstruct the access to pumps.

G) All angling must be done from the boat and partners should NOT leave the boat except to free a lure or emergencies.

H) Practice is allowed up until and including the day before a tournament, but in fairness to all members, persons who have fished a particular water are encouraged to share general information about it, such as average depth, area of deepest water, type of cover, species of fish, etc., especially at a prior meeting.  Exception Allowed:  Members may practice up until 2 hours prior to the start of a night tournament.

I) Fishing must stop at a time determined by the Tournament Director. Boats must be within 25 yards and visible to persons at the weigh-in site. See - Late Weigh-In. Note On large unpredictable waters like the Hudson River, boat accountability is crucial as in the case of a damaged or stranded boat.


IX. Penalties

A) Enforcement of all rules will be done as problems arise.  Penalties are not automatic and may be discussed at the next meeting or at a special review meeting, in an effort to be fair to all involved.

B) Anyone arriving late at the weigh-in will be assessed a penalty of 1lb per minute late per/man which includes that entrant's candidate for lunker.  Exceptions will be considered for emergencies.

C) Anyone not at launch site 10 minutes prior to launch will be subject to a fine of $10, unless the Tournament Director or a club officer is notified.

D) A 4 oz. penalty will be assessed for each dead fish.

E) Any fish weighed in which is found to be under 12" (inches) (15 inches on the Hudson River) will result in a 1 pound penalty per short fish weighed in. Courtesy checks are not allowed at the weigh-in scales.  Culling fish must take place immediately after the 6th keeper is caught.  No culling of dead fish will take place.

F) In the situation that a fisherman weighs in one or more short fish, the 1 pound penalty PER FISH will be enforced even if this penalty results in a negative weight total!  The negative weight will be enforced by carrying over into year end totals.

G) Cell phone usage shall be restricted to emergency use or place a call to the tournament director to question a tournament rule.  Cell phone usage (text or voice) for the purpose of exchanging fishing information with other member competitors or any other parties is strictly forbidden and shall be cause for disqualification.

H) In the event that an Orange County Bassmaster member believes they observed any behavior by any other member competitor that would be grounds for penalty or disqualification, the member must directly and personally communicate this situation to the tournament director at the tournament launch location at the conclusion of the tournament.  The tournament director will carry the responsibility to judge the evidence provided and determine any warranted actions (disregard, warning, penalty or disqualitification) should the evidence indicate reason for action.


X. Winners

A) Only Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass weights are counted, as long as they are each at least 12 inches from the closed lower jaw to the tail tip. Only 5 fish can be weighted in at the site per fisherman. See section "Penalties" for information regarding weigh-in penalties.

B) Total weight and/or lunker wins the tournament.


XI. Awards

A) Lunker and high weight prizes will be presented at the regular meeting following the tournament. B) Year end awards will include:

1) First place, total weight.

2) Second place, total weight.

3) Third place, total weight.

4) Most Improved Angler.

5) Lunker Largemouth Bass.

6) Lunker Smallmouth Bass.

7) Top non-boater of tournament season.


XII. Miscellaneous

A) Medical Emergency Related

1) It would be wise of any member of OCBM who has a medical condition that could result in an emergency life-or-death situation during a tournament to make sure that someone in the club is aware of your condition. (e.g. diabetic) By doing so, important medical information is known by others that could save your life.  None of us wish to ever experience such a situation, but we need to look out for one another.

B) Ask Tournament Director for copy of "Tournament Tips" which is a separate document.