Welcome to the American Fishing Tour

American Bass Anglers, Inc.
2018 National Championship Rules
Lake Hartwell, Anderson, SC - October 21 - 26

  1. RULE CHANGES: These rules supplement the 2018 AFT rules.  These rules will remain unchanged throughout the 2018 National Championship.  Interpretation of these rules shall be left exclusively to the tournament director.  In the event of a rule violation, the tournament director may impose such sanctions, as deemed appropriate, including, without limitation, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes, forfeiture of entry fee and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments.  The decision of the tournament director 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 they violated these rules, or false verification of weigh-in forms, will be cause for disqualification. Protests for any rule infraction must be made in writing within 15 minutes of the official announcement, “the scales are now closed”.
  2. PARTICIPANTS AND ELIGIBILITY: Participation is open to current members in good standing of American Bass Anglers, Inc., who are 14 years of age or older and possess a valid state fishing license for tournament waters, and who have qualified to participate in the National Championship (Have fished a minimum of four one-day tournaments and one two-day tournament).  Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the competitor.  DURING THE OFFICIAL PRACTICE AND COMPETITION DAYS OF AN American Bass Anglers TOURNAMENT, NO COMPETITOR MAY OPERATE A BOAT UNLESS THAT CONTESTANT HAS DOCUMENTED PROOF OF A MINIMUM OF $100,000 BOATING LIABILITY INSURANCE ON THAT PARTICULAR BOAT WITH VALID EXPIRATION DATE. PROOF OF INSURANCE MUST BE WITH THE BOAT BEING USED AND MUST COVER THE COMPETITOR USING THAT BOAT.  RANDOM CHECKS WILL BE CONDUCTED THROUGHOUT THE TOURNAMENT.  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.  Any person entering a tournament that is under 18 years of age must have the signature of his/her parent or legal guardian on the entry form.
  3. POLYGRAPH: By signing the official entry form contestants agree to submit to a polygraph/voice test examination.  Any person convicted of violating tournament rules or failing to successfully pass a polygraph/voice test will not be allowed membership or entry into any future American Bass Anglers, Inc., event.  The administration and interpretation of the polygraph/voice test shall be solely the responsibility of the American Bass Anglers, Inc., and shall be used (or not used) at their discretion.  Without limiting the foregoing, the American Bass Anglers, Inc. shall have sole discretion of the individual(s) who administers such polygraph/voice test, and the scope of the questions which may be asked during such test.  Failure to take and pass the polygraph/voice test examination, if required, will result in immediate disqualification without recourse.  
  4. PROFESSIONALS: Individuals that have fished two or more tournaments requiring an individual entry fee of $675 or more in the preceding six months are not eligible to fish.
  5. GUIDES: Individuals who have guided on tournament waters within 30 days prior to the Championship are not eligible to compete. 
    1. Off Limits: The Lake Hartwell will be off limits beginning at sunset on September 23, 2018 until safe light October 21, 2018.  During the off-limits periods, other than using publicly available information (e.g. newspaper, periodical and Internet reports) competitors cannot solicit, receive or gather any information via phone, electronic devices or any other means about locating or catching fish on tournament waters. THERE SHALL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.  
    2. Pre-tournament practice: Contestants must be paid in full prior before going on the water to practice.  Official practice will begin at safe light on October 21, through 3pm October 23, 2018.  There will be a MANDATORY PAIRINGS AND SAFETY MEETING at 5:00pm on Tuesday October 23, 2018.  Failure to attend the paring and safety meeting will result in immediate disqualification.  No contestant may enter the tournament water for the purpose of catching or locating possible fishing locations after this meeting or after each day's weigh-in.  During official practice contestants may only pre-fish alone, with a member of his/her immediate family, another contestant of the tournament, a national sponsor of American Bass Anglers or a member of American Bass Anglers staff.
  7. ONSITE REGISTRATION: Onsite registration will be Tuesday October 23, 2018 from 2pm - 5pm at the Anderson Civic Center.  Failure to sign in with tournament officials will result in disqualification and forfeiture of entry fee.
  8. LATE FEE: All entries must be postmarked, completion of on-line entry or called in before 12pm midnight, October 10, 2018.  All entries received after October 10th will be assessed a $25 late fee.  Entries for this event will cease at 12 noon Tuesday October 23, 2018.
  9. SAFETY: Safe boating conduct will be observed at all times.  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 no longer in gear.  The boat operator must have an operational 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 operator during bad weather.  In addition extreme caution must be exercised and boat operator must be aware that there will be large cruisers and barges operating that displace extremely large volumes of water which create unusually large wakes.  Weather and water turbulence can be extremely hazardous and extreme caution should be exercised at all times.  Violation of either the PFD or safety-stop switch portion of this rule will result in disqualification.
  10. SPORTSMANSHIP: All contestants are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation.  Contestants must adhere to all local, state and federal laws.  Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification.  Use of or possession of illegal drugs or drugs, or other over-the-counter or prescription drugs prescribed by a licensed physician, by any competitor during the official practice or during pre and post tournament activities will be cause for automatic disqualification from this and all future ABA tournaments.  The consumption or possession of alcohol during tournament hours is prohibited.  Tournament hours are defined as from check-out in the morning through check-in in the afternoon.  Chemical substance addiction or abuse, conviction of a felony or other crimes involving immoral turpitude, or other conduct reflecting unfavorable upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, fair competition and compliance with tournament rules shall be grounds for rejecting applications for membership, participation and or disqualification.  Any disqualification or suspension from, or other disciplinary action regarding any tournament or fishing organization, shall be grounds for rejecting any application for membership, participation and for disqualification.
  11. BOAT OPERATION: Any competitor answering yes to the question: "Will you enter as boater?" will be expected to make that boat available for the duration of the tournament.  Partners must discuss boat operation prior to send-off.  Each partner is entitled to an equal number of hours to fish his/her selected waters.  The non-boater is responsible for any damages, which may occur to the boater's boat if he/she is granted permission to operate the trolling motor.  Any contestant who, in the judgment of the tournament director, operates the boat in such a manner as to unfairly handicap his/her partner shall be disqualified.  It is the responsibility of the non-boater to reimburse the boater in the amount of ½ of fuel cost to defray daily expenses (this will be enforced by tournament officials).  All boat operation within 200 yards of the launch facility will be by trolling motor or idle speed only.
  12. PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS: Fishing will be permitted on Lake Hartwell and all waters contained therein, no locking.  Fishing is not permitted within 50 yards of a marina gas pump or within 50 yards of another competitor's boat anchored or not.  Competitors invoking the 50-yard rule must hold their boat in a steady manner.  Any competitor that allows any other competitor to fish within 50 yards of his/her boat has suspended the 50-yard rule and opened the water to all competitors.  Off-limits will be an area clearly marked at the Green Pond Launch facility.  Additional off-limits areas may be designated and explained at the pre-tournament meeting by the tournament director.
  13. OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT: There will be THREE FLIGHTS: designated RED, WHITE and BLUE.  There will be only one official point for checkout in the morning and check-in in the afternoon.  Competitors not at the checkpoint at the designated time will be penalized at the rate of 1 lb. per minute, deducted from his/her total weight for the day.  Any competitor more than 15 minutes late for send-off or check-in will be disqualified for the day.  Official start and weigh-in times will be announced at the pre-tournament meeting.  Our best effort will be given to allow at least 8 hours fishing time.
  14. SCORING: Pounds and hundredths of each competitors (three day total) catch will determine tournament standings and placement.  Only largemouth, spotted, red eye or small mouth bass will be weighed. The creel limit shall be five (5) unless the prevailing state limit is less.  At no time shall a competitor have in his/her possession more than the tournament limit. Culling must be done immediately.  Minimum length will be 12 inches for all species of bass (measured on a flat board).  A penalty of 1 lb. will be deducted from the total weight for each short fish and a penalty of .50 pounds will be deducted from the total weight for each dead fish.  Penalty weights will be subtracted from the scale weight.  A contestant that presents more fish than the tournament limit will be disqualified immediately.  Mangled, mashed, mauled or otherwise altered fish will be grounds for immediate disqualification.  No regurgitated baitfish will be weighed.  Fish will not be put on a stringer at any time.  All fish presented at weigh-in become the property of American Bass Anglers.
  15. PAIRING OF COMPETITORS: there will be a MANDATORY pairings and safety meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 5:00pm, at the Anderson Civic Center.  Pairings for Thursday and Friday will be posted at the weigh-in sight after each days weigh-in and will appear on your daily weigh slip.  All assignments of partners will be by computer draw and all angling must be accomplished from the boat.   Boater must meet his/her partner at a designated place prior to coming to the launch ramp.  Tournament director has no responsibility for finding lost partners.  Competitors must stay on tournament waters and in sight of each other throughout the tournament day from send-off until weigh-in (Exception: Nature call).  Any contestant refusing to take or go with another contestant in his/her boat will be subject to immediate disqualification.  Tournament Director may reassign partners prior to morning ooze-off to accommodate problems and/or emergencies.
  16. TIE: In case of a tie, combining awards and dividing them equally among the tied contestants shall resolve positions.  A form of lottery shall determine trophy positions.  The tournament director may decide to break first place ties with a fish-off.  Duplicate points will be awarded to tied competitors.
  17. TRANSFERS: There will be no transfers of tournament entry fees.  Refunds, minus 10%, will be given through October 10, 2018 only.
  18. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP REQUIREMENTS: Contestants must have qualified through local AFT divisions (see 2018 tournament rules) to participate in the 2018 National Championship.  Contestants must have met the minimum requirements of qualification which is the successful completion of four (4) one-day tournaments and one two-day tournament.  After all two day events are completed, the top 500 national point holders will be invited to compete in the National Championship, in the event some of the top 500 elect not to participate additional anglers will be invited starting with points position 501 and continue until a full field is reached.  The top 250 points holders and all divisional “Anglers of the Year” will be guaranteed boater status.  All registered non-boaters who meet qualifications will be paired with a guaranteed boater.  If there are not enough non-boaters, boaters my fish alone.  The top qualifiers (boaters) will be notified of their boater status on September 23, 2018.   The National Championship is worth 2000 points to the winner.  Points will be awarded in 5 point decreasing increments depending on place of finish.  Service Team Anglers of the Year will be determined by the best four 1 day district finishes plus best 2 day finish plus points received at the Championship.
  19. ANGLER OF THE YEAR: The divisional “Angler of the Year” from each AFT division will be eligible and invited to compete for the national title.  “Angler of the Year” title will be awarded to the highest finishing divisional “Angler of the Year” competing in the Championship based on their total weight for the three days of the competition.  Divisional “Angler of the Year” is determined by points acquired within angler’s home division (see season rules for points system).  
  20. Awards: The same person is not eligible to win more than one prize boat from American Bass Anglers, Inc. during the same calendar year.  In the event the winner of the National Championship is also “Angler of the Year”, he/she will be awarded the first place prize boat and second place by place of finish will be awarded the second boat.  If the highest finishing non-boater wins the championship they will be awarded the National Champion boat and the Non-Boater championship boat will awarded to the next highest finishing angler by place of finish whether it be a boater or non-boater.
  21. WAIVER AND RELEASE: As a condition of participation in this tournament, competitors must execute a waiver, release of liability and a name and likeness release.
  22. TAXES:  Anglers are responsible for all applicable taxes for both cash and merchandise awards.



Membership - $35 Annually
Entry Fees:
Divisional One-Day: $70 
Divisional Two-Day Championship: $140
National Championship: $170


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