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Rules of Bass Fishing Tournaments

The 11th annual Durant Main Street Bass Tournament was held on the weekend of Saturday May 8, 2010 out of Alberta Creek Marina on Lake Texoma. This team event had a guaranteed first place prize of at least $1000. Tournament hours were from 6:30am-3:00pm and trailering was allowed. A cookout was also provided by Holiday Chevrolet for all participants after the weigh-in.

Quite often I write about fishing tournaments assuming that most readers understand the rules, the different divisions and unique vocabulary involved. Therefore I thought that I would take the time to explain some of these to the non-tournament angler.

Most bass tournaments are either team (two anglers) or individual events where the anglers compete for the best five-fish stringer of any combination of largemouth, spotted or smallmouth bass within a given time (usually 8 hours). During the contest, the participants are allowed to cull their fish. Culling means to throw back smaller fish that have been caught and replace them with bigger fish. Almost all local club tournaments are team events where as pro tournaments are exclusively individual.

Every bass tournament has the basic set of rules that are normally similar. These include: only using artificial lures, no fishing within a certain distance of another boat, fish must be caught on a rod and reel during tournament hours (no tying up previously caught fish), no adding artificial weight to fish and all contestants must be at the weigh-in site on time.

However, some tournaments have specific rules that include: places on the lake that are off limits, a time frame leading up to the tournament that is off limits or how tournaments are started. Most pro tournaments and some bigger team circuits begin with a morning "take-off" at the weigh-in site (usually a boat ramp or marina). In these contests teams or individuals draw for their take-off number. A tournament official will then be stationed in the harbor of the marina and call out each boat number.

Other tournaments use a term called "trailering" to begin their events. In this case anglers may use any public boat ramp on the lake prior to the tournament and motor to their starting spot. Participants may not cast, however, until the official start time. Trailering is useful during inclement weather so anglers can fish in protected coves. It also helps save money on gasoline.