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Published: February 9, 2016

MLF Cup Event Rules and Format


1.       The field size for the MLF CUP EVENTS will consist of thirty (30) MLF Anglers.

2.       The competition will be comprised of three rounds, covering six total days.


a.       Round 1 (ELIMINATION ROUND) will comprise three days (Days 1, 2 and 3);


b.      Round 2 (SUDDEN-DEATH ROUND) will cover two days (Days 4 and 5);


c.       Round 3 (CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND) will be a one-day event, held on the final day.




a.       During the Elimination Round, MLF Anglers will be divided into three groups of ten (10) MLF Anglers each: Groups 1, 2 and 3.


b.      Group 1 will compete on Day 1, Group 2 on Day 2, and Group 3 on Day 3.


c.       MLF will determine which MLF Anglers competes in each round.


d.      On Day 1, the four MLF Anglers from Group 1 with the highest weight total of “Scorable Bass” during a full day of competition will advance to the Sudden-Death Round.


e.      The same criteria will be used during Round 1 with Groups 2 and 3 – four MLF Anglers with the highest weight totals each day will advance to the Sudden-Death Round.


f.        The total number of MLF Anglers advancing to the Sudden-Death Round will be 12.




a.       During the Sudden-Death Round, the 12 MLF Anglers that advanced (from Round 1) will be divided into two groups of six MLF Anglers each: Groups 1 and 2.


b.      Group 1 will compete on Day 4, Group 2 on Day 5.


c.       MLF will utilize a “seeding system” based on Elimination Round results to establish the MLF Anglers’ placement in groups 1 or 2. MLF will seed the groups based on the success (or lack of success) of MLF Anglers during the previous round.


d.      MLF will post a qualifying weight for the two days of Sudden-Death Round competition based on the fishery and existing conditions.


e.      The qualifying weight will be determined by the MLF Commissioner after he consults with an MLF Angler representative and/or other consultants of his choosing.


f.        The qualifying weights will be set for each of the two days and will be announced no more than 12 hours prior to the start of that round’s competition.


g.       The first three MLF Anglers from Sudden-Death Round / Group 1 and the first three MLF Anglers from Sudden-Death Round / Group 2 to reach the qualifying weights set for their days of competition will advance to the Championship Round.


h.      If either one or three MLF Anglers fail to reach the qualifying weight, the MLF Angler (s) that advance will be determined by the total weight of Scorable Bass caught during a full day of competition.


i.         The total number of MLF Anglers advancing to the Championship Round will be 6.




a.       The field for the Championship Round will be made up of three MLF Anglers    advancing from each: Sudden-Death Group 1 and Sudden-Death Group 2.


b.      During the Championship Round, the MLF Angler with the highest total weight of Scorable Bass will be declared the winner.




a.       During all days of competition, MLF Anglers will fish 7.5 hours that will be divided into three periods, with 30-minute intervals between the end of a period and the beginning of the following period.


b.      Prior to the start of the first period, MLF Anglers will convene at the edge of the zone that will be utilized for that day’s competition. MLF Anglers will be released simultaneously (shotgun start) to begin a 15 minute non-Fishing, scouting ride-around prior to the official start time of Period 1.


c.       During period breaks, no MLF Angler will be allowed to fish or try to locate Bass. 


d.      MLF Anglers will be required during period breaks to meet at a pre-determined Rendezvous Point.


e.      MLF Cup Rendezvous Point to be located at a highly centralized area of the field of competition.


f.        At the beginning of the second and third periods, MLF Anglers will take off according to their order in the standings.


g.        Round One Daily schedule is as follows. Daily times may vary and will be provided:

45     Minutes: Launch, Interviews and Photos (Subject to Change)

15     Minutes: Enter Zone for Scouting (Minimum Time))

2.5   Hours: Fishing Period 1

30     Minutes: Intermission and Rendezvous

2.5   Hours: Fishing Period 2

30     Minutes: Intermission and Rendezvous

2.5 Hours: Fishing Period 3

All Daily competition times subject to change based on weather conditions.


16     Round Two will follow the same schedule as the above Round One. Round Two will, however, include qualifying weight cut lines. If three MLF Anglers reach the qualifying weight, competition will cease for the day.


17     Round Three will follow the same procedural schedule as the above Round One.





a.       If a MLF Angler is disqualified or disqualifies himself during an event, he only receives the points earned leading up to disqualification. The MLF Angler in the next position in the event standings WILL NOT move up to replace him in the event.






a.       Participation in MLF Cup Events is open only to MLF Anglers as determined and approved by Major League Fishing.




a.       MLF Anglers must adhere to all federal, state and local laws. MLF Boat Officials are required to contact the MLF Commissioner with any questions or concerns about an Angler’s potential action that may violate a law. A MLF Boat Official must immediately report an Angler’s violation of a law to the Commissioner. Based on the set of circumstances in connection with the violation, the Commissioner, at his discretion, will issue an immediate penalty and or disqualification.


b.      Boats for tournament competition will be supplied by MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING and will be fully equipped with all essentials to meet state water safety requirements.


c.       The MLF commissioner or his designee has the right to delay, shorten or cancel the start of an event because of bad weather or other factors that would endanger the safety of the competitors. Competition waters may also be restricted at any time because of bad weather. We will be monitoring the weather at all times during the competition day and will communicate to your MLF Boat Official via SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device messages, texts and phone.


d.      In the event that dangerous conditions develop, MLF will suspend the competition for all participants and instruct you to immediately take cover. If at any time you feel you are in danger, and your MLF Boat Official HAS NOT been contacted, you should take cover and immediately contact the MLF Commissioner. The MLF Commissioner will suspend the competition until the conditions have improved.




a.       Competitors are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Any violation of the standards may be deemed cause for disqualification. (SEE Sportsmanship and Flagrant Sportsmanship Violations, definition and penalties, Rules 21 s and 21 t).


b.      Use of alcohol or drugs (other than drugs purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) by any competitor during MLF Cup Events could be cause for automatic disqualification.


c.      Maximum courtesy must be practiced at all times, especially with regard to boating and angling in the vicinity of non-competitors who may be on tournament waters.


d.      MLF Boat Officials have the responsibility of reporting to the MLF Commissioner a MLF Angler’s sportsmanship violation or a flagrant violation for any act that reflects unfavorably upon efforts to promote Fisheries conservation and/or clean waters. 




a.       Interpretation and enforcement of rules shall be left exclusively to the MLF Commissioner and/or his assigned designees at the competition.


b.      In the event of a rule violation, the MLF Commissioner and/or his designees may impose such sanctions as disqualification and/or prohibition from participation in subsequent MLF Cup Competitions.


c.       Subject to appeal, the decision of the MLF Commissioner and/or his designees, or a special rules committee established by the MLF Commissioner shall be final in all matters.




a.       Supervises the training program for all MLF Boat Officials.


b.      Develops and manages all MLF Boat Official duties, procedures, communications, etc. and makes additional recommendations to the MLF Commissioner.


c.       Evaluates and rates the performance of each member of the current MLF Boat Official Staff and reports the findings to the MLF Commissioner. 


d.      Serves as the on-site liaison between the MLF Boat Officials and MLF Anglers as required.




a.       Independently trains all MLF Boat Officials to meet the standards as set by the MLF.


b.      Serves in a supervisory capacity in directing other MLF Boat Official Staff.




a.      A fully trained MLF Boat Official will accompany each MLF Angler throughout each day’s competition.


b.      Each boat will be equipped with a MLF SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device that will be linked to a central database system. The device will provide MLF Anglers with a Leader Board that shows the status of the event’s point’s leaders.


c.       The duties of the MLF Boat Official will be to weigh and record the weight of each Scorable catch, update the MLF SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device, “call the game” and communicate with the base of operation.


d.     The MLF Boat Official will serve as rules enforcer and the official scorekeeper.


e.      Specific Penalty Violations will be assessed “on the spot” by the MLF Boat Official and all other violations will be reported to the MLF Commissioner or his representative.



f.       Rules decisions made by a MLF Boat Official are considered final, unless a MLF Angler chooses to submit a written protest to the MLF Commissioner.







a.       All MLF Cup Events will utilize the MLF term “Scorable Bass". The parameters (size) of a Scorable Bass will be determined by MLF no less than 12 hours prior to the start of any MLF Cup Event.


b.      Immediately after a catch is made, the Bass will be verified as Scorable Bass (or non-Scorable Bass) by the MLF Boat Official. The MLF Boat Official may request that any Bass be put on the measuring board for verification. The MLF Boat Official has the final decision regarding the Bass meeting the minimum length for scoring and will announce “Scorable Bass” or “non-Scorable Bass”.


c.       There is no limit to the number of Scorable Bass a MLF Angler can catch and record during MLF Cup Event competition day.


d.      Only the MLF Angler will handle Bass caught during competition.  Once a Bass is caught, placed on the measuring board and determined as Scorable, the Bass will be set onto the official scale by the MLF Angler.


e.      The MLF Boat Official will hold the official scale by the handle only with both hands and position it at eye level. The Bass must be held steady, allowing the scale to be clearly read first by the MLF Boat Official in full view of the TV camera.


f.        The MLF Boat Official will call the weight. If the call is challenged by the MLF Angler, the MLF Boat Official will zero the scale and re-weigh the Bass a maximum of two (2) additional times and then the MLF Boat Official will make the final call, “the official weight is”. The Bass can’t be dipped into the water between re-weighs.


g.       After the official weight is announced, the MLF Angler is to remove the Bass from the scale, properly release the Bass into the water and resume Fishing.


h.        The MLF Boat Official will immediately record the weight in writing on the MLF “Manual SCORETRACKER Sheet” and enter the weight into the official MLF SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device.




a.       The MLF SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device will serve as the “Official Clock.”


b.      At the ends of periods, the MLF Angler will be clearly notified by the MLF Boat Official when the period competition is coming to an end and when MLF Angler must stop Fishing. The only deviation to the scheduled ends of periods will be if all MLF Anglers receives extra minutes because of OFFICIAL MECHANICAL TIME OUT by the MLF Commissioner.


c.       Regarding the final cast of any period, any Bass hooked on the final cast must be “inside the boat,” visibly inside the gunnel before the time expires.


d.      The legality or illegality of a period-end catch will be determined by the MLF Boat Official.




a.       Use of nets and grippers for landing Bass is prohibited.


b.      Only artificial lures can be used.


c.       All Bass must be caught in a conventional sporting manner.


d.      Any Bass caught while “visually fishing” must be hooked inside the mouth and verified by the MLF Boat Official before being unhooked.  The weight of a Bass caught by the technique of “visual fishing” can only be scored once during that day.


e.      MLF Anglers will be permitted the use of a lure retriever; however, MLF Anglers must supply their own lure retriever.





a.       NO INFORMATION RULE: MLF Anglers shall not pursue any action of any kind that may give that MLF Angler a competitive advantage during competition. 


All MLF Anglers, including eliminated MLF Anglers, may not talk with any other MLF Angler, sponsor, locals or anyone else except for authorized MLF media personnel about any daily results or any other event information. MLF Anglers may not talk to MLF Boat Officials about any other MLF Angler’s results or tactics used during any competition day. 


MLF Anglers may not use any mapping or GPS device including boat electronics, cell phones, tablets or computers to research any information about any possible fisheries in the general area of the event location.


Should a MLF Angler receive information that potentially gives him a competitive advantage, such as locations: baits, topography, conditions, etc., including unsolicited information, he is required to share that information with the MLF Commissioner. The MLF Commissioner shall determine whether this information should be subsequently shared with any or all other MLF Anglers. 


The No Information Rule will be governed by a polygraph test.                  


(Penalty – MLF Commissioner: Sharing Information, Result Disqualification)


b.      GPS STORED WAYPOINTS: No pre-determined, user-generated GPS waypoints will be allowed. Waypoints may only be marked during competition hours.                                                          


(Penalty – MLF Commissioner: Illegal GPS Waypoints, Disqualification)


c.       OFF LIMITS: Lake is off limits except for when MLF Anglers are competing in the actual MLF Cup event.                                       


(Penalty – MLF Commissioner: Illegal Scouting, Disqualification)


d.      ASSESSING PENALTIES: If the MLF Boat Official calls a penalty on the MLF Angler, he must immediately stop all activities including fishing. The MLF Angler is not allowed to drop his shallow water anchors or operate the trolling motor unless the boat is in immediate danger of being damaged and the MLF Boat Official gives the MLF Angler permission to do so. ALL other activities of any kind are not allowed and additional penalty time will be added for a penalty compliance violation for each occurrence.


If a penalty results from a Bass Landing Violation the Bass must immediately be measured and released or measured, weighed and released. The MLF Boat Official is required to manually record the weight of the Bass before he starts the penalty clock on the SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device.


MLF Boat Officials are not allowed to enter the penalty on the SCORETRACKER© Scoring System Device before the weight is first manually recorded. The MLF Angler must not request that MLF Boat Official start the penalty clock before the weight is first manually entered.


The MLF Angler must sit down on the front deck and is not allowed to do ANYTHING during his penalty time with the exception of talking to the camera operator about his fishing day up to that point or what it is that he is going to do next.


(Penalty – Official: Penalty Compliance Violation, 1 Minute Additional Penalty)


e.      PENALTY CARRY-OVER: If a MLF Angler  is assessed a penalty at the end of Period One or Period Two, the penalty time spent will be at the “start of Fishing” in the next period. If a MLF Angler is penalized at the conclusion of Period Three in Round One or Round Two, the penalty time spent will be at the “start of Fishing” during the next Round. The beginning ride around time cannot be used for penalty time.

f.        LINES-IN RULE: During the countdown to Begin Fishing in any period and at end of a Penalty, the MLF Select Angler cannot cast his lure before MLF Boat Official says "Lines In."


(Penalty – Official: Lines-In Violation, 2 Minutes at Start of Period)


g.       LINES-OUT RULE: If MLF Boat Official has called "End of Period, Lines Out" or "End of Round, Lines Out" MLF Select Angler cannot make another cast.


(Penalty – Official: Lines-Out Violation, 2 Minutes Carry-Over Penalty)


h.      ENCROACHMENT RULE: There is no official buoy distance rule.   However, at no time is a MLF Angler allowed to interfere with another MLF Angler’s line. If a MLF Angler casts close to another MLF Angler and hooks into his line, the casting MLF Angler will be penalized.                                                                                                                                                                                                     


(Penalty – Official: Hooking other’s line, 2 Min., stop fishing when line untangled)


i.         LANDING BASS: While landing Bass, the Bass cannot touch the carpet or any other part of the boat inside the gunnel at any time during the process. If the Bass comes unhooked from the bait and falls to the carpet or hits any other part of the inside of the boat it will be assessed as a violation. . Excepted from this rule will be laying the Bass on the measuring board or on the carpet to remove a deep set hook, “only after it has been properly landed without it touching the carpet”.  MLF Angler should first ask the MLF Boat Official if the MLF Angler can lay the Bass on the carpet.  If a Bass comes off of the measuring board while measuring or off the scale while weighing the Bass it will not be assessed as a penalty.


Additionally, MLF Angler is not allowed to cradle Bass or allow Bass that he is landing to touch his body.  A MLF Angler cannot allow a Bass to touch any part of his body other than his hands or forearms. A short and inadvertent touch will not be penalized.  If the MLF Angler brings the Bass to the body deliberately to secure control of the Bass, then it will be a penalty. From a rules standpoint, the body is to be treated the same as the carpet.


(Penalty – Official: Bass Landing violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop Fishing)


j.        RELEASING BASS: When releasing any Bass that is Scorable or non-Scorable, the MLF Angler’s hand must be at gunnel level or closer to the water. No flipping or tossing of a Bass.


(Penalty – Official: Bass release violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop Fishing)


k.       BROKE OFF BASS: Breaking off a hooked Bass while fighting and landing it will result in a penalty. If a hooked fish does not reveal itself as something other than a Bass then the fish will be judged to be a Bass. A break-off on the initial hook set will not result in a broke off Bass penalty.


(Penalty – Official: Breaking off hooked Bass, 2 Minutes immediate stop Fishing)


l.         SECOND LINE: A MLF Angler will be allowed to utilize a second line in the water ONCE PER PERIOD. However, when utilizing a second line, a MLF Angler must employ a “cast and retrieve” method. Working bottom bait very slowly is considered a “cast and retrieve” method. If a MLF Angler casts a second line in the water more than once per period, the MLF Angler will receive a penalty. Dragging a line from a stationery rod is not permitted. Although the MLF Angler will be penalized for the second-time use of two lines, any Bass caught that is Scorable will count.                                                                        


(Penalty – Official: Illegal 2nd Line, 1 Min., stop fishing when 2nd lure is retrieved)


m.    LEAVING BOAT TO FISH: MLF Angler may not leave the boat for the purpose of Fishing. Leaving the boat to assist in landing a hooked Bass, as an act of Fishing, will result in a penalty. Although penalized, if a MLF Angler retrieves a Scorable Bass, the Bass will count. Leaving the boat for non-Fishing reasons is allowed without a penalty.                 


(Penalty – Official: Leaving Boat to Land Bass, 4 Minutes immediate stop fishing)


n.      OUT OF BOUNDS: On some bodies of water, MLF Anglers will compete in a pre-determined zone each day. The boat must be positioned inside the zone boundaries. Fishing outside of the boundaries is allowed as long as the boat position remains inside the boundaries. Any boat position outside the zone will result in a penalty.                                                                                                 


(Penalty – Official: Boat out of Bounds, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


o.      GRAPHING: Graphing between periods in order to locate Bass is not allowed. Penalty will be called when the MLF Angler marks a waypoint between periods.                                       


(Penalty – Official: Graphing between Periods, 5 Minutes at start of next period)


p.      GOING NEUTRAL: Round Two MLF Anglers will be required to “go neutral” immediately after they have qualified for the next round of competition. Going neutral means the MLF Angler is required to immediately stop Fishing and return to a designated Rendezvous Point.


(Penalty – Official: Failure to “Go Neutral,” 5 Minutes at start of Championship Fishing Period. The ride around time cannot be used for 5 minute penalty time)


q.      PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE: Each MLF Angler must wear a Coast Guard-approved chest-type life preserver. MLF Angler’s life preserver must be strapped, snapped or zippered securely and maintained in that condition any time the combustion engine is in gear.  The MLF Boat Official's life preserver must be on before the boat is put on plane.  Camera Operators are not required to wear the life preserver, but one must be on board for them at all times. 


(Penalty - Official: Safe-boat conduct Penalty, 3 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


r.        KILL SWITCH: The MLF Angler or other appointed driver must have his boat’s kill switch connected any time the combustion engine is in gear.


                      (Penalty – Official: Kill-switch connection, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


s.       SPORTSMANSHIP: A Sportsmanship Violation is defined as aggressive or hostile behavior directed at a fellow MLF Angler, MLF Boat Official, a non-competitor or any representative of MLF, including the use of profanity directed at these individuals, will not be tolerated.  MLF Boat Officials are required to report violations.


(Sportsmanship Violation, Penalty will be determined by the MLF Commissioner)


t.        FLAGRANT VIOLATION: A flagrant violation for any act that reflects unfavorably upon the positive efforts of MLF, MLF sponsors, spectators, fisheries conservation, and clean waters will not be tolerated.                                                                                                                                    


(Flagrant Sportsmanship Violation, Penalty determined by MLF Commissioner)


u.      MECHANICAL FAULT: If a MLF Angler experiences mechanical failure during MLF competition and the MLF Boat Official determines that the MLF Angler is at fault for the problem, no TIME OUT will be called.                                                                                                                                           


(Penalty – Boat Official: Self-inflicted Mechanical Failure, No time out for repair)


v.       MECHANICAL FAILURE If a MLF Angler’s boat experiences mechanical failure during competition and the problem is determined by the MLF Boat Official to be no fault of the MLF Angler, an OFFICIAL TIME OUT will be issued. All competing MLF Anglers will be promptly notified when the OFFICIAL TIME OUT is to begin. MLF Anglers must immediately stop Fishing when the OFFICIAL TIME OUT is called. MLF Angler in the process of reeling in a “hooked” Bass will be allowed to count the weight of this Scorable Bass toward his daily weight total.


The OFFICIAL TIME OUT will be employed for the duration required to replace the MLF Angler’s boat or appropriate boat part. The MLF Boat Official with the MLF Angler experiencing the boat failure will notify the MLF Commissioner and the MLF Commissioner will communicate the beginning and ending times for the OFFICIAL TIME OUT.


w.     At the end of the period, MLF Anglers will be allotted extra minutes of Fishing, with the total number of minutes equaling the duration of the TIME OUT. MLF reserves the right to alter the day’s competitive time schedule should a TIME OUT occur.