2023 OFFICIAL RULES (Updated 12-15-22)
Qualifying Events | Stages One-Seven:
Catch-weigh-immediate release. Five heaviest scorable bass per day. Minimum scorable weight will be determined by the MLF Fisheries Management Division.
Catch-weigh-immediate release. Five heaviest scorable bass per day. Minimum scorable weight will be determined by the MLF Fisheries Management Division.
Catch-weigh-immediate release. Every scorable bass counts. Minimum scorable weight will be determined by the MLF Fisheries Management Division.
2. PARTICIPATION AND ELIGIBILITY:
a. The following rules apply to the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, Heavy Hitters and REDCREST. These rules may be modified and changed from time to time with input from Pro Bass Tour Anglers Association (PBTAA) representatives. All Bass Pro Tour anglers will receive notice of such changes or corrections via text and/or e-mail.
b. MLF events are only open to qualified Major League Fishing pros who have signed the following documents:
i. Major League Fishing, LLC Angler and League Agreement
ii. PBTAA Talent and Promotion Agreement
Beginning in 2024, REDCREST will also be open to participants who qualify through the MLF Invitationals, Toyota Series, Bass Fishing League and MLF College Fishing based on the rules outlined for each circuit. Participants who qualify through this manner are not required to sign the Major League Fishing, LLC Angler and League Agreement or PBTAA Talent and Promotion Agreement.
c. During official practice and competition days no contestant may operate a boat unless he/she has current boat owner’s liability insurance with a minimum of $300,000 per occurrence covering the boat being used in the event. Proof of insurance must be with the participant’s boat being used and must cover all passengers in the boat. Each policy must show an effective start date and expiration date. Any participant who does not have proof of insurance may be subject to fines, penalties or disqualification. The MLF Tournament Director will have final say. In addition to boat owners liabilityinsurance, participants are also required to carry a $1,000,000 Professional Angler General Liability Insurance Policy (See PBTAA Talent and Promotion Agreement).
d. Participants must sign a W-9 and when required a Form 590 or W-8 BEN provided by MLF prior to the start of competition. If tax status or address changes occur, new forms must be submitted prior to participation in the next MLF event. (See PBTAA Talent and Promotion Agreement).
e. To ensure effective and timely communication between Major League Fishing, Pro Bass Tour and MLF Bass Pro Tour Anglers, each angler must provide MLF with his or her primary cell phone number, primary email address and home phone number (if applicable). If there is a change in a participant’s primary cell phone number or email address, it is the participant’sresponsibility to make MLF aware of the change. If a participant does not have an email address that he/she checks on a regular basis, the participant may provide an email address for a significant other or manager with whom he/she is in regular contact. Participant cell phones must be able to receive text messages from MLF.
f. Major League Fishing is the owner of all MLF events and holds the content rights to all photos and videos (live or recorded) that are captured at any Bass Pro Tour event, Heavy Hitters and REDCREST, both on and off the water. During MLF events, Major League Fishing may mount a small camera in a participant’s boat. The photos and video collected would be used for the MLF website, social media, print Livestream, and/or TV coverage.
g. All MLF Anglers are required to comply, even if the MLF Angler already has a personal camera mounted in their boat. Refusing to comply may result in a penalty. In-boat MLF Officials and camera operators will be allowed to operate these cameras. In-boat MLF Officials are not allowed to operate an angler’s personal camera unless an angler specifically asks an in-boat MLF Official to take a photo or video of the MLF Angler during the competition.
h. Photos taken by an MLF Angler during an MLF Competition may be posted on social media and the Angler’s website. Anglers may shoot a video for promotional or marketing purposes and send it to sponsors/post videos on social media profiles/the Anglers website.
i. All Bass Pro Tour anglers are required to have a camera on their boat during competition. Anglers are required to have the camera on and recording throughout each day of competition. Captured video must be retained until the next event in case the league needs to review it for any reason. When the next event begins, participants may record over the previous events footage and reuse the SD card. MLF will have a limited number of spare cameras available should a participant’s camera malfunction.
j. If an Angler has their own camera person or crew following them on the water, that personal photographer or team must register with MLF media for an approved MLF Credential and must notify the MLF Tournament Director prior to being on the water. The MLF Angler’s personal photographer or team must be respectful of MLF Camera Operators, photographers and other MLF competitors. MLF anglers are not allowed to view any drone footage until eliminated from competition. MLF anglers are not allowed to arrange personal observation flights over competition waters within the 30-day off limits or the official two-day practice.
k. Personal photographers must do everything within reason not to interfere with MLF photographers, videographers and other MLF Anglers who are covering/competing in the event. At the event, MLF Angler’s personal photographers must follow the same rules as any media covering the event. Media coverage guidelines will be provided by MLF Media before the start of the competition.
l. All Bass Pro Tour Anglers will be required to sign an acknowledgment indicating they have read, understand and will adhere to these rules.
3. MLF BASS PRO TOUR EVENT RULES:
a. The MLF Tournament Director oversees the interpretation and enforcement of these rules. If there is a rules violation, the Tournament Director along with the Rules Infraction Committee made up of the MLF Executive Vice President and General Manager and MLF Vice President of Operations will determine the angler’s penalty based on the Rules Infractions Policy (RIP). These penalties may include disqualification, loss of points and winnings, prohibition from participation in future MLF events and loss of fishing time. Any Bass Pro Tour Angler can file an appeal of a penalty with the Tournament Director. In the case of an appeal, the five (5) person Appeals Board made up of the MLF President and CEO, MLF Executive Vice President and General Manager, MLF Vice President of Operations, an MLF Tournament Director (other than the Bass Pro Tour Tournament Director) and the MLFAA Executive Director will determine if the appeal will be upheld or dismissed.
b. MLF Anglers are required to report any concerns about possible rule violations by another competitor. If an angler witnesses a rule violation, the angler must report that violation to his own in-boat MLF Official and the Tournament Director as soon practical, but no later than the end of competition for the day.
c. All MLF Anglers will start from and return to the same official check point unless otherwise instructed by the Tournament Director (such as enacting the MLF trailering policy).
d. Before Lines-In, MLF Anglers will follow all instructions from the Tournament Director and his designees.
e. Each participant will leave the staging area for Lines- In when their boat number is called by MLF officials.
f. The MLF SCORETRACKER® scoring system device will serve as the Official Clock.
g. The MLF Official will give the MLF Angler a countdown to Lines-In (beginning of competition). At the end of each period and round, the MLF Official will provide the MLF Angler an official countdown to Lines-Out.
h. Regarding the final cast of any period and round, the MLF Angler must have a line in the water and be visibly fighting the bass before time expires for it to be scorable.
i. The total weight of the five heaviest scorable bass caught during the day will determine each MLF Angler’s place for that day at Bass Pro Tour Stage 1-7 events and REDCREST unless otherwise instructed by the Tournament Director. The total weight of all scorable bass caught during the day will determine each MLF Angler’s place for that day at Heavy Hitters unless otherwise instructed by the Tournament Director.
j. Anglers must operate their boats at a safe speed and in a safe manner at all times.
k. In the event of an emergency, competitors must call 911 first and then notify the Tournament Director.
l. Competitors and MLF Officials are allowed to leave the boat and seek shelter in bad weather where danger may be imminent.
m. Once an MLF Angler is eliminated from competition, that angler is not allowed back on the MLF event waters without the approval of the Tournament Director.
4. DAILY TIE-BREAKER:
a. During Bass Pro Tour Stage 1-7 events, if two (or more) MLF Anglers are tied, the following tie-breaking rules will be employed:
b. During REDCREST, if two (or more) MLF Anglers are tied, the following tie-breaking rules will be employed:
c. During Heavy Hitters, if two (or more) MLF Anglers are tied, the following tie-breaking rules will be employed:
5. BASS PRO TOUR POINTS:
a. All MLF Bass Pro Tour anglers begin each season with zero points. MLF Anglers may earn points at each Bass Pro Tour tournament according to their individual place finish as follows:
b. At each Bass Pro Tour event (Stages 1-7) anglers eliminated in the Qualifying Round will finish the event tied with the equivalent angler in the other Qualifying Group.
c. MLF Anglers must legally catch a scorable bass to earn points for each MLF Bass Pro Tour tournament. Any MLF angler who does not catch a scorable bass in a MLF Bass Pro Tour tournament will receive zero points for that tournament.
d. Earned points will accumulate until the conclusion of the season. Total accumulated points at the end of the season will determine the MLF Angler of the Year and REDCREST qualifiers (as outlined in section 6).
e. Should there be a tie in accumulated points for MLF Angler of the Year, the tiebreaker will be angler with the best Bass Pro Tour tournament finish of the season, followed by the second-best finish, then the third, and so on, until a winner is determined. Should tie still exist after all tournament place finishes have been used, the winner will be determined by the total number of scorable bass caught during the season. Should a tie still exist after all scorable bass caught are used, the winner will be determined by the biggest bass caught in the season.
f. Each MLF Bass Pro Tour angler will receive the point value of their individual place finish, regardless of the size of the Qualifying Group. Every effort will be made to ensure Qualifying Group A and Group B have an equal number of Bass Pro Tour anglers, but this will not always be possible. If unavoidable circumstances result in unbalanced Qualifying Groups, each angler will receive the actual point value for their individual place finish. Groups shall be determined before 9 pm local tournament time.
6. MLF BASS PRO TOUR AND MLF REDCREST PRIZE MONEY AND QUALIFYING TERMS:
a. Bass Pro Tour Event Payout (Stages 1-7):
Payouts will total $806,640 for each Bass Pro Tour Stage. The following reflects the payouts breakdown and Big Bass for each Bass Pro Tour Stage:
b. REDCREST Payout:
Payouts will total $730,000 for REDCREST. The following reflects the payouts by place finish and Big Bass:
During each of the MLF Bass Pro Tour tournaments, MLF Anglers may earn REDCREST qualifying points according to individual place finish at the end of each tournament. The top thirty-nine (39) Bass Pro Tour Anglers in the year-end Angler of the Year points standings after all Bass Pro Tour events will advance to REDCREST as will the reigning REDCREST Champion, provided the Champion is a current BPT angler. If the reigning REDCREST Champion is in the top 39 pros from the year-end Bass Pro Tour AOY standings or is not a current Bass Pro Tour angler, the next eligible pro based on year-end Bass Pro Tour AOY standings will be invited.
c. Heavy Hitters Qualifying Terms
i. Each of the eighty (80) Bass Pro Tour anglers will be allowed to count their single largest bass for each of the seven (7) Bass Pro Tour tournaments.
ii. The thirty (30) Bass Pro Tour Anglers with the heaviest total weight submitted of the biggest bass caught by each angler at each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour season (1 fish per event – 7 total fish each season) will qualify for Heavy Hitters.
d. Heavy Hitters Payout:
Payouts will total $507,500 for Heavy Hitters. The following reflects the payouts by place finish and Big Bass:
a. A Sportsmanship Violation is defined as aggressive or hostile behavior directed at a fellow MLF Angler, MLF Official, a non-competitor or any representative of MLF, including the use of profanity directed at these individuals. Sportsmanship Violations will not be tolerated. MLF Officials are required to report any such violations to the MLF Tournament Director. Any Sportsmanship Violation Penalty will be determined by the MLF Tournament Director and the Rules Infraction Committee made up of the MLF Executive Vice President and General Manager and MLF Vice President of Operations.
b. Flagrant Violation: A flagrant violation of any act that reflects unfavorably upon the positive efforts of MLF, MLF sponsors, spectators, fishery conservation, and clean waters – including littering – will not be tolerated. Any Flagrant Violation Penalty will be determined by the MLF Tournament Director.
c. MLF Anglers are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation. Any violation of the standards may be deemed cause for disqualification.
d. Use of alcohol or drugs (other than drugs purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) by any MLF Angler during practice and competition hours could be subject to disciplinary action, including automatic disqualification. This decision is at the discretion of the MLF Tournament Director.
e. Maximum courtesy must be practiced always, especially with regard to boating and angling in the vicinity of non-competitors who may be on tournament waters.
f. MLF Officials have the responsibility of reporting to the MLF Tournament Director or his designee an MLF Angler’s sportsmanship violation or a flagrant violation for any act that reflects unfavorably upon efforts to promote fishery conservation and/or clean waters. The MLF Tournament Director will assess the incident and determine if a penalty is warranted.
g. All competitors are bound by the laws and policies that are set forth by the various states/counties which they fish. Some regulations may differ from these rules, resulting in fines, citations or other penalties from local law enforcement and could result in event penalties. MLF Anglers are responsible for knowing all local boating and fishing regulations.
h. Disqualification, suspension or other disciplinary action imposed by other tournament-fishing organizations could also result in disqualification from MLF.
i. Substance addiction or abuse or conviction of a serious crime may be deemed cause for disqualification from an MLF event.
j. All MLF Anglers must have a valid fishing license for the waters they fish.
8. ANGLER CODE OF CONDUCT PENALTY GUIDELINES:
a. If an MLF Bass Pro Tour Angler is found to have violated the Angler Code of Conduct, her/she may be assessed a time penalty, monetary penalty and/or any penalty listed in 3A.
9. TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT:
a. Fish Care and Conservation is a Major League Fishing priority. All bass must be caught in a conventional sporting manner.
b. Use of nets and grippers for landing bass is prohibited.
c. Only artificial lures can be used.
d. MLF Anglers can receive lures and lure components from other MLF Anglers up until 12:01 a.m. the first official day of practice. MLF Anglers can then only receive lures and lure components from other MLF Anglers after they have been eliminated from competition. (Lure components: blades, skirts, plastic trailers, etc.). Terminal tackle and fishing equipment such as hooks, swivels, weights, line, rods, reels, etc. is excluded from this section and acceptable to exchange at any time.
e. A competitor may not intentionally foul hook a bass that they have visually located. When a bass is caught while sight fishing, it must be verified immediately by the MLF Official that it has been hooked on the inside of the mouth before removal of any hooks to be counted in the daily weight. Inside of the mouth is defined as when the bass’s mouth is closed in its natural position it will cover the entry point of the hook into the bass.
f. When sight fishing (visibly targeting bass), anglers cannot knowingly weigh the same bass more than once per day. Knowingly weighing the same bass that was caught while sight fishing more than once per day may result in loss of weight, loss of fishing time, a fine or any other penalty as outlined in 3A as determined by the Tournament Director.
g. Alabama Rigs and similar umbrella-type rigs are not allowed. Umbrella rigs are determined to be any nontraditional lure or harness using wires, lines or hooks to connect multiple teasers, including but not limited to swimbaits, grubs or spinners. The use of braid or other line to attach a single stinger hook to a lure is allowed as long as the line is no more than 2 inches in length. Traditional spinner baits with a maximum of five blades, including “twin spins” with a maximum of two arms, are acceptable so long as the arm length does not exceed 6 inches from the tie point. The use of plastic trailers, pork trailers and blades are acceptable as long as they are not connected by additional wires or harnesses. Soft plastics must be molded as a single unit and are limited to a maximum of three main bodies.
h. If a competitor breaks their line while setting the hook or retrieving a fish, they can use whatever means necessary to land that fish with the exception of leaving the boat onto private property. No angler may step or otherwise place themselves onto private property to land a fish.
i. Trolling utilizing the outboard or trolling motor, as a means of fishing by pulling your lure is NOT allowed. Long lining/strolling is acceptable.
10. IN-BOAT MLF OFFICIAL’S ROLE:
a. A fully trained and certified MLF Official will accompany each MLF Angler throughout each day’s competition.
b. Each boat will be equipped with an MLF SCORETRACKER® Scoring System Device that will be linked to a central database system. The device will provide MLF Anglers with a Leaderboard that shows the status of the event leaders.
c. The duties of the MLF 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. The official will continually announce updates to the angler regardless of whether the MLF Angler wants the information.
d. The MLF Official will give the MLF Angler SCORETRACKER® updates. MLF Officials will also give the MLF Angler SCORETRACKER® updates of any significant fish scored at any other time, known as “flash updates.”
e. The MLF Official will serve as the rule enforcer and the official scorekeeper.
f. Specific Penalty Violations will be assessed “on the spot” by the MLF Official and all other
violations will be reported to the MLF Tournament Director or his representative.
g. Rules decisions made by an MLF Officials are considered final, unless an MLF Angler chooses to submit a written protest to the MLF Tournament Director.
11. THE WEIGHING OF BASS:
a. All MLF events shall utilize the MLF term “scorable bass.” A scorable bass is any bass caught that meets or exceeds the minimum weight requirement for that specific round. Any bass caught that weighs less than the minimum requirement shall be deemed “non-scoreable.” The minimum weight requirement shall be determined by the MLF Tournament Director or his designees and will be announced in each event’s schedule of events.
b. The heaviest five scorable bass each day will be used to calculate results at each Bass Pro Tour Stage and REDCREST. Every scorable bass each day will be used to calculate results at Heavy Hitters. MLF Anglers are encouraged to weigh every bass that may be scorable to assist the MLF Fisheries Management Division with fisheries research.
c. Only the MLF Angler will handle bass caught during competition. Once a bass is caught, the bass will be set onto the official scale by the MLF Angler. To prevent miscalibration, the MLF angler is not allowed to clip the fish onto the gripper until the hooks are removed. In the event the hook cannot be removed without harming the fish, the angler will remove any visible line and weights but will be allowed to weigh the fish with the embedded hook. The MLF angler must notify his Official if his fish has an embedded hook.
d. The MLF 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 Official and in full view of the TV camera.
e. Should the bass be less than the official minimum weight, the MLF Official shall announce the weight followed by it being deemed “non-scorable.” Should the bass meet or exceed the minimum weight, the official will proceed to call the weight in pounds and ounces.
f. The MLF Official will call the weight. If the call is challenged by the MLF Angler, the MLF Official will zero the scale and re-weigh the bass a maximum of two (2) additional times. Then the MLF Official will make the final call, “the official weight is.” The bass cannot be dipped into the water between re-weighs. The exception to this rule is the extremely rare occasion that a scale malfunction occurs and dipping the fish is necessary for the health of the fish. Any exception will be determined by the MLF Official.
g. After the official weight is announced (or after a bass is deemed non-scorable) the MLF Angler must cease all actions and remove the bass from the scale, immediately releasing the bass below the gunnel into the water, unless a photograph or DNA sample of the fish is required. MLF requires the MLF Official to take several photographs of significant fish throughout the competition round.
h. The MLF 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.
i. If an MLF Angler catches an exceptional bass, one that may potentially break lake, state or MLF records, the bass may be placed in a functioning livewell and immediately contact the Tournament Director. The Tournament Director will work with the MLF media team to determine if a photographer or videographer can arrive in adequate time, based on weather/water conditions, to document the fish. The Tournament Director will then instruct the MLF Angler on when the fish must be released.
j. At the end of the round, the MLF angler will sign the “Manual SCORETRACKER® Sheet.” If the MLF angler disagrees with any written weight, the angler must present video footage that indicates proof thereof to the MLF Tournament Director.
12. HORSEPOWER REGULATIONS:
a. 250 is the maximum horsepower for all outboard motors used in official MLF BPT events. Horsepower cannot exceed the limitations set by the U.S. Coast Guard. When required, each boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard horsepower rating plate attached to the boat by the manufacturer and that rating plate must be an accurate representation of the engine’s horsepower. Each angler must agree to an inspection of their competition boat and outboard motor. Inspections will be performed by a factory-trained official if there is any reason for MLF Event Officials to suspect the horsepower is more than the rating. Normal engine maintenance is allowed and encouraged. However, changing or altering the standard factory parts of an engine to increase the horsepower over the 250-horsepower maximum is forbidden, and will result in disqualification.
b. Falsifying any information on entry forms, including the horsepower-rating numbers on the engine, will result in immediate disqualification from all Major League Fishing events.
c. Anglers must be mindful of their boat’s speed at all times and must operate their boats in a safe manner. Violations of speed limits posted by state or local lake authorities may result in an angler losing competition time and may lead to disqualification.
13. BOAT AND MOTOR REGULATIONS:
a. Any raised platforms or decks cannot be higher than the gunnels of the boat. Standing on the outboard engine or seats while fishing is not allowed. Trolling motor mounts may be used to stand on.
b. Only manufacturer-installed gas tanks are allowed. Portable gas tanks or containers holding gasoline are not allowed on the event waters or shoreline for use by any event competitor.
c. Any boat/hull designs other than standard mass-produced units are only allowed at the discretion of the MLF Tournament Director.
d. Anglers must compete from the same boat for the entirety of the season, unless approved by the MLF Tournament Director.
14. BASIC BOAT EQUIPMENT:
a. During official practice days and the competition, every boat must have all required Coast Guard safety equipment as well as a functional bilge pump.
b. MLF anglers must provide one (1) dry storage space for the MLF Official and MLF Camera operator that will accommodate an equipment bag measuring 24” x 12” x 12”
c. The MLF Anglers’ SCORETRACKER® ACCESS TERMINAL (S.T.A.T.) unit will be installed on the angler’s boat each morning on all days of competition and removed from the angler’s boat at the end of each day’s competition. These (S.T.A.T) units are fully self-contained.
15. BOAT OPERATION AND EXPENSE:
a. Anglers can fish from anywhere inside the boat. MLF Officials should make every reasonable effort to stay out of the way of anglers while they are fishing or landing fish. MLF Officials and/or Camera Operators are not allowed to help competitors in any way. MLF Officials and/or Camera Operators can drive boats in cases of emergency or with permission from the MLF Tournament Director. Loading and unloading boats from trailers is an exception to this rule. All cost of boat operation is the responsibility of MLF Anglers. When idling in shallow areas, anglers can ask MLF Officials and/or Camera Operators to move their position in the boat if the MLF Official and/or Camera Operator can place his/her feet in the bottom of the boat.
16. MLF OFFICIAL OBLIGATIONS:
a. MLF Officials are required to have knowledge of SCORETRACKER® operation. SCORETRACKER® operation will be explained during MLF Official Training before the events, and in briefings before each competition.
b. MLF Anglers and MLF Officials are to be honest and timely with catch and weight reports. Any competitor who, in the judgment of the MLF Tournament Director, advises MLF Officials to neglect or falsely report catches or weights will be penalized.
c. MLF Officials will carry GPS systems and cell phones during the events to communicate with MLF event officials and other boats on the water.
d. MLF Officials will bring a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device as part of their equipment bag to each event.
e. MLF Officials are not allowed to text information to anyone other than Major League Fishing media and event officials, unless in an emergency.
f. MLF Officials can assist an angler with his personal camera if the angler requests help and the MLF Official is comfortable doing so. Major League Fishing cameras and GoPro-style POV cameras always take priority over angler’s personal cameras, in terms of placement and access to batteries/chargers.
17. PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS:
a. Competition waters shall be established by MLF for each day of the event. Each competitor must obtain this information from the Tournament Director. Any areas within these boundaries that are obviously labeled “Off-Limits” or “No Fishing,” will be off-limits to anglers and will be announced at the Event Briefing. Only areas open to public fishing will be considered event waters. Off-limits boundaries set by authorities or event officials should be treated as a wall, meaning anglers cannot cast over that boundary while fishing. Out of Zone areas are determined by the boats location therefore an angler may cast into an Out of Zone location.
b. All angling must be done from inside the boat. When fishing in states where landowners have the legal authority to claim private property, private property areas must be posted or they will be considered event waters, unless anglers are instructed otherwise by the MLF Tournament Director. If forced to leave a private area on event waters, an angler must report the incident to the Tournament Director as soon as possible. Any water to which a competitor is denied access automatically becomes off-limits to all competitors. Inside the boat is defined as at least one part of the angler’s foot inside the boat. The trolling motor mount will also be considered part of the boat.
c. Before the event check-in, any questionable areas must be brought to the attention of the MLF Tournament Director. Such areas will be considered and will be announced in the briefing for all to hear. The MLF Tournament Director has the right to restrict or modify competition waters based on any new information or conversations with local authorities.
d. Anglers are not allowed to cut, remove, displace, or alter any type of structure on private property (dry land) at any time during an MLF event. Anglers can move structures to include sawing of logs or other obstructions in the water if the local laws permit it. No angler may place any object in the water or on dry land that could put another boater or angler in danger.
18. COMPETITORS MUST REMAIN IN BOAT:
a. During the event days, MLF Anglers cannot leave the boat to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. If the boat becomes lodged while attempting to gain access into fishable water, the MLF angler can leave the boat without penalty to attempt to dislodge. If the angler does dislodge the boat (by pushing) into the area they were attempting to enter, they must immediately exit this area. The MLF angler can continue to attempt access into such area, however, if access is accomplished it must be done so while the angler was inside the boat.
b. Competitors can leave the boat to retrieve a lure or a rod without penalty. All fishing by that competitor must cease until the competitor is back in the boat.
c. Boats must remain in event waters during event days. Competitors must leave from and return to official checkpoints. Anglers can exit the boat for any reason other than fishing and Rule No. 18.A without penalty. Anglers can purchase baits and tackle from retail outlets during competition.
a. Competition standings and final winners shall be determined by the pound-and-ounce weight of each competitor’s catch during the competition days of the event. Only largemouth, smallmouth, mean mouth, or spotted bass will be weighed and counted. Only the five heaviest scorable bass will be counted each day at Bass Pro Tour Stages 1-7 and REDCREST. Every scorable bass will be counted each day at Heavy Hitters.
a. MLF Officials and MLF Camera Operators will be assigned to each angler the evening prior to competition. MLF Officials and anglers pairing will be done so by automated randomizer. It shall be the responsibility of each MLF Official to contact their assigned angler via call or text on the evening prior to competition. The MLF official will also confirm with the angler all necessary information, such as staging location, take off position, etc. The MLF Tournament Director or his designee may reassign MLF Officials at any time.
a. There may be events in states that have laws requiring income taxes to be withheld on cash awards to non-residents. If that is the case, the taxes will be automatically deducted from the angler’s winnings prior to the awards being presented.
b. Participants are responsible for all applicable taxes, execution of all tax forms, and rules on both cash and merchandise awards.
22. WAIVER AND RELEASE:
a. As a condition of participation in each event, MLF Anglers and MLF Officials must execute a waiver and release of liability and a name and likeness release.
23. NO INFORMATION RULE:
a. Once an MLF Angler learns of a Bass Pro Tour tournament location, including REDCREST and Heavy Hitters, the angler is prohibited from intentionally soliciting or intentionally receiving any information pertaining to tournament waters from a non-competitor for the purpose of locating or catching bass. If any such information is unintentionally being received from a non-competitor, the MLF Bass Pro Tour angler must politely ask the non-competitor to cease from divulging the information.
b. Once an MLF Angler learns of a Bass Pro Tour tournament location, including REDCREST and Heavy Hitters, the angler is prohibited from intentionally soliciting, intentionally receiving, or intentionally sharing specific location information pertaining to tournament waters with any other Bass Pro Tour angler for the expressed purpose of locating or catching bass.
i. “Intentionally Soliciting” is defined as deliberately asking for, or in any conceivable way deliberately communicating a request for information.
ii. “Intentionally Receiving” is defined as deliberately engaging in any behavior for the purpose of receiving information and the information is actually received.
iii. “Intentionally Sharing” is defined as deliberately communicating information, in any conceivable way, with another Bass Pro Tour angler.
iv. “Non-competitor” is defined as any person who is not currently a Bass Pro Tour angler, or a Bass Pro Tour angler who has been eliminated from active waters of the MLF tournament.
v. “Specific Location Information” is defined as way points, coordinates, longitudes, latitudes, unique or specific landmarks, code words, graph images or other distinctive descriptors of a position to fish. Specific location information does not include general terms of locations, such as “docks,” “grass,” “shoals,” etc. Such terms are not considered to be specific location information, unless they are considered distinctive, identifiable or named.
c. Competing MLF Anglers are prohibited from sharing fishing information of any kind – locations, patterns, tactics, baits, etc. – during competition hours, including during period breaks.
d. Once an MLF Angler learns of a Bass Pro Tour tournament location, including REDCREST and Heavy Hitters, the angler is allowed to personally research any public information such as maps, internet search-engines, print material, etc. All research must be done by the MLF Angler without assistance from a non-competitor.
e. MLF Anglers are prohibited from intentionally sharing another MLF Angler’s fishing location(s) on active tournament waters with other active MLF Anglers.
f. MLF Anglers are prohibited from using drones or aircrafts for the purpose of scouting tournament waters during official off limits until eliminated from competition. This includes viewing any images, footage, or any other data from drones or aircrafts during these times.
g. MLF Anglers are prohibited from viewing or receiving information from anyone about the live streaming broadcast of an active MLF tournament, until eliminated from competition. Inadvertent or unintentional information received from the live streaming broadcast must be reported to the MLF Tournament Director. The exception to this rule is during activations approved by the MLF Tournament Director where the live streaming broadcast is played.
h. MLF Anglers are prohibited from studying or investigating any published photographs pertaining to an active MLF tournament, until eliminated from competition. MLF Anglers are allowed to post videos and photographs provided to them by Major League Fishing. Inadvertent or unintentional viewing of published photographs pertaining to an active MLF tournament must be reported to the MLF Tournament Director.
i. During any non-competition day (or day off), MLF Anglers are prohibited from intentionally watching or spying on other actively competing MLF Anglers. Inadvertent or incidental observations of actively competing MLF Anglers is not considered intentional.
j. The No Information Rule will be governed by a Rules Infraction Verification Test, administered by an MLF Rules Compliance Officer.
(Penalty – Illegal Information, determined by the MLF Tournament Director and/or the MLF Rules Infraction Committee)
24. OFFICIAL PRACTICE AND OFF LIMITS:
a. There will normally be a 30-day off-limits period leading up to thirty (30) minutes prior to official sunrise the morning of the first day of official practice. During the official off-limits period, MLF Anglers are prohibited from being on tournament waters, and/or gathering or receiving any information from any source, other than other competitors, that is not publicly available. MLF5 off-limit exemptions will be at the discretion of the MLF Tournament Director.
b. Prior to the official off-limits period, MLF Anglers are allowed to pre-fish the scheduled event waters with anyone of their choosing. The MLF Angler is responsible for being the captain of the boat, as well as choosing all fishing locations. The MLF Angler must inform their guest that they cannot be provided specific location information as described and outlined in rules 23.A. and 23.B.
c. During the official practice hours an MLF Angler cannot be on the water with anyone without prior approval from the MLF Tournament Director.
25. ASSESSING PENALTIES:
a. If the MLF Official calls a penalty on an MLF Angler, the angler must immediately stop all activities, including fishing. The MLF Angler is allowed to drop his shallow water anchors or engage their trolling motor assist. ALL other activities of any kind are not allowed, and additional penalty time will be added for a penalty compliance violation for each occurrence.
b. If a penalty results from a Fish Landing Violation the bass must be immediately weighed and released. The MLF Official is required to manually record the weight of the bass before he starts the penalty clock on the SCORETRACKER®Scoring System Device.
c. MLF 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 the MLF Official to start the penalty clock before the weight is first manually entered.
d. The MLF Angler must sit down on the front deck and is not allowed to do ANYTHING during his penalty time except for 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)
26. PENALTY CARRY-OVER:
a. If an MLF Angler is assessed a penalty at the end of the day, the penalty time spent will be at the “start of fishing” on the angler’s next day of competition. The beginning ride around time cannot be used for penalty time.
27. LINES-IN RULE:
a. During the countdown to begin fishing and at the end of a Penalty, the MLF Angler cannot cast
his lure before the MLF Official says “Lines In.”
(Penalty – Official: Lines-In Violation, 2 Minutes at Start of Period)
28. LINES-OUT RULE:
a. When the MLF Official has called “Lines Out, End of Period One” or “Lines Out, End of Round,”
the MLF Angler cannot make another cast.
(Penalty – Official: Lines-Out Violation, 2 Minutes Carry-Over Penalty)
29. ENCROACHMENT RULE:
a. There is no official buoy distance rule. However, at no time is an MLF Angler allowed to interfere with another MLF Angler’s line. If an 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 Minutes Immediate, stop fishing when line untangled)
30. LANDING BASS:
a. While landing bass, the weight of the bass cannot come to rest on the boat floor or any other part of the boat inside the gunnel, or it will be assessed a Fish Landing violation. If a bass comes unhooked from the bait and falls to the floor or comes to rest onany other area inside of the boat, it will be assessed as a Fish Landing violation. Exception from this rule will be laying the bass on the floor to remove a deep-set hook, only after it has been properly landed without touching the floor. The MLF Angler should first ask the MLF Official if the MLF Angler can lay the bass on the floor.
(Penalty – Official: Fish Landing Violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
31. FLAGRANT FISH LANDING:
a. Should an MLF Angler intentionally harm a bass in any way during the landing process, the action shall be deemed a Flagrant Fish Landing Violation. Such actions include, but are not limited to, intentionally causing a bass to touch the carpet or any other part of the boat inside the gunnel, intentionally cradling a bass with arms, legs or body, intentionally kicking the bass into the floor of the boat, etc.
b. The difference between a regular Fish Landing Violation and a Flagrant Fish Landing Violation is intent. A regular Fish Landing Violation is the result of an unintended action. A Flagrant Fish Landing Violation is the result of an intended action, such as boat flipping a bass onto the bottom of the boat.
c. Should an MLF Angler hook multiple bass on one bait, and intentionally harm them as described above, a Flagrant Fish Landing Violation penalty will be assessed for every bass that is hooked.
d. If a bass is landed by lifting or pulling it up with the angler’s rod and purposely dropping it on the
floor (boat flipping), a Flagrant Fish Landing Violation will be charged.
(Penalty – Official: Flagrant Fish Landing Violation, 5 Minutes immediate, stop Fishing)
32. RELEASING BASS:
a. When releasing any bass, scorable or non-scorable, the MLF Angler’s hand must be at gunnel level or closer to the water. Flipping or tossing of bass is prohibited and will be considered a Fish Release Violation. If the MLF Anglers’ full intention was to properly release the fish, and they were in the action and motion to do so, a violation will not be assessed.
(Penalty – Official: Fish Release Violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
33. ONE LINE:
a. Only ONE fishing rod may be used at a time. Dragging a line from a stationary rod is not permitted. Fishing is defined as having a lure attached to a line and a rod and reel with the rod in hand. No bass caught on a second rod or line will be scorable.
(Penalty – Official: Illegal 2nd Line, 1 Minute immediate, stop fishing when 2nd lure is retrieved)
34. LEAVING BOAT TO FISH:
a. MLF Anglers may not leave the boat for the purpose of fishing. Leaving the boat to assist in landing a hooked fish, as an act of fishing, will result in a penalty. Although penalized, if an MLF Angler retrieves a scorable bass, the bass will be counted towards his weight total. Leaving the boat for non-fishing reasons is allowed without a penalty.
(Penalty – Official: Leaving Boat to Land Fish, 3 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
b. The MLF Official and MLF Camera Operator may not leave the boat to help the MLF Angler for any reason. If the boat drifts away from where the MLF Angler left the boat, the MLF Official may retrieve the boat to allow angler access. However, a 2-minute penalty will be assessed. The exception to this rule is that the MLF Official may leave the boat only in a situation where the integrity of the game is at risk, but a longer penalty will be assessed. (Rule 34.C)
(Penalty- Official: Boat Retrieval, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
c. Should an MLF Angler’s boat gets stuck and the angler needs assistance in any form from anyone - including the MLF Official, MLF Camera Operator, and/or other MLF Anglers - a penalty will be assessed once the boat is freed and the angler is back in the boat.
(Penalty – Official: Official Assistance, 15 minutes immediate, stop fishing)
35. OUT OF BOUNDS:
a. 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. Any area inside competition waters where no fishing is allowed, this area shall be deemed a wall (Rule 17.A) and MLF Anglers may not cast into the area.
(Penalty – Official: Boat out of Bounds, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
36. GOING NEUTRAL:
a. MLF Anglers will be required to “go neutral” immediately after MLF Official calls “Lines Out, End of Round.” Going neutral means the MLF Angler is required to immediately stop fishing and return directly to the boat landing where they launched. The MLF Angler cannot use this time to gain any competitive advantage over other MLF Anglers.
(Penalty – Official: Failure to “Go Neutral,” 5 Minutes at the start of the next fishing period)
37. PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE:
a. Each MLF Angler must have two Coast Guard-approved chest-type or inflatable personal floatation devices. The MLF Angler’s personal floatation device must be strapped, snapped or zippered securely and maintained in that condition any time the combustion engine is in gear. The MLF Official’s personal floatation device must be on, and the MLF Official must be seated before the boat is put on plane. MLF Camera Operators are also required to wear a personal floatation device when the boat is on plane.
(Penalty - Official: Safe-boat Conduct Penalty, 3 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
38. IGNITION SHUTOFF DEVICE:
a. The MLF Angler or other appointed driver must have his boat’s ignition shutoff device connected any time the combustion engine is in gear.
(Penalty – Official: Ignition Shutoff Device Connection, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)
a. A Sportsmanship violation is defined as aggressive or hostile behavior directed at a fellow MLF Angler, MLF Official, a non-competitor or any representative of MLF, including the use of profanity directed at these individuals, will not be tolerated. MLF Officials are required to report violations.
(Sportsmanship Violation, Penalty will be determined by the MLF Tournament Director)
40. FLAGRANT VIOLATION:
a. 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 the MLF Tournament Director)
a. MLF Anglers cannot knowingly put their MLF Official or camera operator in a situation where they are unable to perform their job. This includes being in an area where there is no connectivity with the SCORETRACKER® Scoring System Device for more than 15 consecutive minutes.
b. Once the boat enters an area where the SCORETRACKER® Scoring System Device loses
connectivity, the MLF Official will announce “We have lost SCORETRACKER® connectivity. You have 15 minutes before you must return to an area of connectivity.” Once the 15 consecutive minutes has elapsed, the MLF Official will announce “You have reached your 15 minutes of connectivity loss. You must stop fishing and return to an area of connectivity.” At this point the MLF Angler must immediately stop fishing and return the boat to an area of SCORETRACKER® connectivity. This includes making another cast after the MLF Official has announced the 15 minutes of lost connectivity has elapsed. Failure to do so will result in a penalty.
c. Any bass caught between the time after the MLF Official has announced the 15 minutes of lost connectivity has elapsed and before the SCORETRACKER® Scoring System Device has regained connectivity will be deemed non-scorable.
(Penalty-Official: Impedance Violation, 15 minutes once connectivity is reestablished, stop fishing)
Appendix A – Serpentine Seeding (Stages 1-7):
For initial seeding at Stage One (1), Pro Circuit anglers will be seeded in the last available spots in order of their 2022 Pro Circuit Angler of the Year standings.
Appendix B – Serpentine Seeding (Heavy Hitters):