Abu Garcia College Fishing - Major League Fishing

Abu Garcia College Fishing Rules

MLFLW, LLC, (DBA “MLF”) expects strict adherence to the following rules by all contestants. MLF recommends the use of livewell additives like T-H Marine G-Juice to help promote the healthy release of bass. In the event of an emergency, please call 911 first and then notify the tournament director. MLF recommends the use of EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons. The tournament director should be notified as soon as possible prior to weigh-in if you use a mobile communication device for any purpose other than GPS, mapping, weather, power generation, barge traffic updates, tidal charts, personal fishing notes and related data as outlined in rule 10.

2023 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Rules

1. INTERPRETATION & ENFORCEMENT • These rules will remain unchanged during 2023. Interpretation and enforcement of these rules will be left exclusively to MLF. Decisions of the tournament director are final in all matters and are not subject to appeal. Each contestant agrees to report any rule violation to the tournament director immediately upon discovery of the violation. Failure to report violations may be cause for disqualification. The violation of a tournament rule may result in, but is not limited to, weight loss, the loss of weight up to a particular time in the tournament day, the loss of weight for the entire day, the loss of the heaviest one-day catch, the loss of the heaviest bass for the day, loss of fishing time, disqualification from the entire tournament, a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $250 or ineligibility to participate in future MLF tournaments. Protests and/or alleged rule violations are to be documented in writing by the witness within 30 minutes of the check-in time of the final flight of each tournament day. MLF reserves the right to consider rule violations reported or discovered after a tournament has ended and assess penalties for future events, including denying entry to compete.

2. PARTICIPATION & ELIGIBILITY 

QUALIFYING EVENTS – Participation is open to students who are registered, full-time undergraduate or graduate students at a four-year college or university or registered, full-time undergraduate students at a community college on the date of the tournament they are fishing or the preceding semester in the case of tournaments held during the summer session. Seniors and graduate students in their final semester are considered full time if enrolled in all remaining courses required for degree completion. Contestants in good standing with their club and school may finish out the season after graduation so long as they met eligibility requirements when the season began and fished at least one tournament while still a full-time student. Classes must be in session at the time of the tournament for new freshman to be considered full-time undergraduate students. Contestants must be members of MLF and members of a college fishing club that is recognized by their school. Anyone who has fished four or more MLF Pro Circuit, Bass Pro Tour or B.A.S.S. Elite Series events as a pro in any one season is not eligible to participate. College fishing team coaches and assistant coaches are not eligible to participate. Any person under the age of 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska) must also have the signature of a parent or legal guardian in the provided space on the entry form. Any person’s participation in any tournament is at the sole discretion of MLF officials. Any person who, in the judgment of the tournament director, is disabled or handicapped in such a manner as to compromise his or her safety or the safety of his or her partner, other competitors or the boating public may not be eligible to participate. Contestants must have in their possession a current student identification card from the college or university they are representing and a valid fishing license for the waters they fish. Random checks will be conducted at each tournament. Failure to provide proof of a valid fishing license within a reasonable amount of time when requested by the tournament director will result in disqualification for that day and any preceding days in which the license was required for the tournament. Each team will consist of two contestants. A contestant may be permitted to fish alone with approval from the tournament director. If a contestant fishes multiple qualifying events with different teammates, only the first team that qualifies will advance to the National Championship. A contestant cannot qualify for the National Championship as a member of two different teams. With prior approval from the tournament director and mutual consent by both members of a team, a team may forfeit their entry into the National Championship and try to requalify. Teams may fish any tournament. There is no limit on the number of teams that each club can enter in a tournament. Each tournament will be capped at a maximum of 250 boats. Contestants may not fish as a co-angler in Toyota Series Western division tournaments that run concurrently with College Fishing tournaments. Entries will be accepted beginning at 8 a.m. Central time December 12, 2022, for teams from school clubs represented in the 2022 College Fishing National Championship. All other teams may enter beginning December 13, 2022. Entries may be made either by phone (270.252.1000) or at MajorLeagueFishing.com. Do not make entry by more than one method. Accepted teams will be confirmed and notified via e-mail. If a team is unable to participate after being confirmed into a tournament, the team must notify the tournament director via e-mail at least 48 hours prior to takeoff for entry fees to be transferred or refunded. ENTRY FEES WILL NOT BE TRANSFERRED OR REFUNDED IF NOTIFIED LESS THAN 48 HOURS PRIOR TO TAKEOFF. Each refunded entry fee is subject to a $10 service charge. Qualifying events are one-day tournaments with the winning team determined by the day’s heaviest catch. A tournament must have at least 100 boats for cash awards to be active.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: Entry fees are $100 per team, per tournament for teams entering prior to onsite check-in. The onsite entry fee is $150 per team.

2024 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – The top 12 percent of teams from each 2023 Qualifying event compete in the three-day, 2024 College Fishing National Championship. If a team finishing high enough to advance to the 2024 College Fishing National Championship at a Qualifying event is already qualified for the National Championship, the next highest finishing team will advance. Contestants must be in good standing with the club and school they represented at the qualifying tournament. Contestants must have in their possession a valid fishing license for the waters they fish. Random checks will be conducted at the tournament. Failure to provide proof of a valid fishing license within a reasonable amount of time when requested by the tournament director will result in disqualification for that day and any preceding days in which the license was required for the tournament. Contestants are required to follow all applicable federal, state and local regulations and laws. Any violation of such regulations and laws may result in disqualification from the tournament. No substitute teammates are permitted. If one contestant on a team cannot participate, the remaining contestant can fish alone or with another teammate who has also qualified. The full field competes on days 1 and 2. The top 10 teams based on heaviest combined weight from days 1 and 2 compete on day 3. The winning team is determined by the heaviest combined weight from days 1, 2 and 3. Each contestant finishing in the top 10 at the 2024 National Championship receives priority entry into the 2025 Toyota Series. 

2024 TOYOTA SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP – Both members of the first- and second-place team at the 2024 College Fishing National Championship advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship as pros. Both members of the third-place team at the 2024 College Fishing National Championship advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship as co-anglers. 

REDCREST 2025 – The highest finishing member of the winning team from the 2024 College Fishing National Championship at the 2024 Toyota Series Championship advances to REDCREST 2025.

3. SCHOOL OF THE YEAR SCORING • 300 points are awarded to the winning team in each tournament, 299 to 2nd, 298 to 3rd, etc. Each school receives the total points earned by its top two teams in each tournament. School of the Year is awarded to the school with the highest point total from its three best tournaments. A tournament must have at least 100 boats for points to be awarded. 

4. PURCHASING OF INFORMATION • The purchasing of, or bartering for, information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters, including but not limited to GPS waypoints (other than through commercially available sources) and the hiring of fishing guide services is not permitted by contestants, coaches, teammates and/or parents or guardians of contestants within 10 days of Qualifying tournaments and 15 days of the National Championship. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.

5. OFF-LIMITS, PRACTICE & COMPETITION 

QUALIFYING EVENTS – There is no practice period or off-limits period for contestants prior to the start of the tournament. Contestants may not enter tournament waters to locate bass or potential fishing waters or sightsee after midnight on the day the tournament starts except during tournament hours. Testing equipment on tournament waters prior to takeoff is permitted only with prior approval from the tournament director. On competition days, contestants may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except contestants confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are not publicly available sources). During competition days, contestants may not place brush or other physical fish attractors, including chum of any kind, in tournament waters. During competition days, teams may not follow a noncontestant’s boat or participate in the placing of markers, brush or other fish attractors by noncontestants or the practice of “hole sitting” by anyone. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.

2023 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – Lake Toho is off-limits to all contestants Feb. 6-18, 2023. Lake Toho is open for practice Feb. 19-20, 2023. Teams must be off the water for registration by 3 p.m. on Feb. 20. Coaches are not allowed on tournament waters during practice. No practice is permitted at night (beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise) during the National Championship practice period. This includes running to and from a fishing location. Each team is allowed one boat on the water during the official practice days. Contestants may only practice with their teammate that is confirmed in the tournament. Nobody else, except an MLF editor, MLF producer or approved media representative, is allowed in the boat. During the off-limits period, practice and competition days, contestants may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except contestants confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are not publicly available sources). During practice and competition days, contestants may not place brush or other physical fish attractors, including chum of any kind, in tournament waters. During practice and competition days, teams may not follow a noncontestant’s boat or participate in the placing of markers, brush or other fish attractors by noncontestants or the practice of “hole sitting” by anyone. Anglers eliminated after each round of competition are considered noncontestants. Contestants in the top-10 cut after the close of weigh-in on day 2 may not solicit or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other top-10 contestants and through publicly available sources. Flights over tournament waters, including drones, for the express purpose of locating fish or fishing locations are not permitted beginning with the start of the off-limits period, extending through practice and competition days. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.

6. ON-SITE CHECK-IN & PRETOURNAMENT MEETING 

QUALIFYING EVENTS – Both contestants comprising a team must check in at the College Fishing mobile headquarters located at the designated tournament launch site at least one hour prior to takeoff. A pretournament meeting will take place 30 minutes prior to takeoff. The takeoff time, designated tournament launch site and tournament boundaries will be provided in a confirmation e-mail prior to each tournament.

7. BOAT ASSIGNMENTS • Takeoff order (boat number) is determined by random draw. Teams entering after noon on the Thursday before the tournament will be assigned the last available boat numbers by date and time of entry. Every team must supply its own boat. All teams must use camera equipment if provided by MLF on day 3 at the College Fishing National Championship. 

8. SAFETY • Safe boating must be observed at all times. Each contestant is required to wear a fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device anytime the combustion engine is running from takeoff until weigh-in each day of the tournament. All boats must be equipped with a factory-installed emergency ignition-shutoff device that must be securely attached to the driver’s body whenever the combustion engine is running. Contestants may fish and charge batteries using an onboard charger by letting the combustion engine idle in neutral only if the boat is equipped with a certified and functioning wireless ignition-shutoff device and everyone in the boat is wearing a fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. All persons must be seated and a driver must be behind the steering wheel in full control of the boat whenever it is on plane or the combustion engine is running and in gear. At the discretion of the tournament director, tournament days may be shortened, postponed or canceled due to unsafe weather or water conditions. Competitors may leave their boat and seek shelter in bad weather or when danger is imminent. Contestants involved in boating accidents and/or safety incidents may be required to complete a BoatUS Foundation boating safety course before participating in another MLF tournament. A free course for each state is available at boatus.org. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.

9. SPORTSMANSHIP • All contestants are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy and conservation and to conduct themselves in a manner that will be a credit to themselves, to MLF, MLF’s sponsors, the school the team is representing, the sport of fishing and MLF’s efforts to promote the sport. Conduct not complying with these standards includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Violation of, or failure to comply with, any of the rules for the 2023 College Fishing season.
  • Consumption and/or possession of alcoholic beverages or any kind of mind-altering substance during registration, the pretournament meeting or during tournament hours extending through the weigh-in procedure.
  • Abuse of, or addiction to, mind-altering substances.
  • Conviction of a felony within the past 36 months.
  • Suspension/disqualification probation or ban from any tournament or fishing organization.
  • Boat operation in an unsafe or unsportsmanlike manner.
  • Violation of a posted no-wake area.
  • Publicly criticizing or questioning the integrity of MLF or MLF officials, including but not limited to MLF rules, policies and procedures.
  • Dissemination of disparaging content or content that one should reasonably know would harm the reputation of MLF, MLF officials or MLF sponsors.
  • Any other words, conduct or actions reflecting unfavorably upon efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship, fair competition and compliance with tournament rules, or which fail to comply with the standards set forth in the first sentence of paragraph 9.

In case of any conduct not complying with the standards outlined above, MLF shall have the right to refuse an application to compete, to deny a confirmed application to compete, to disqualify a contestant or impose any penalty outlined in paragraph 1. 

10. BOAT OPERATION • Teams will supply, and drive, their own boats. Contestants may not use mobile communication devices, including but not limited to, cell phones, tablets, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc., to communicate with anyone about locating or catching fish on tournament waters during tournament hours. Mobile communication devices may be used during tournament hours to communicate with lockmasters about locking, to communicate with the tournament director or to communicate with MLF editors or producers. Contestants may use smart phones and/or tablets during tournament hours for GPS, mapping, weather, power generation, barge traffic updates, tidal charts, personal fishing notes and related data. At no time during tournament hours may contestants read or discuss social media posts from other contestants. Contestants are expected to compete every day for which they are qualified; failure to do so may result in ineligibility of the team and/or club to compete in future MLF tournaments. If a special circumstance arises that inhibits a team or contestant’s ability to compete, the tournament director may allow the team or contestant to withdraw from competition and maintain the weight caught to that point. 

11. BOAT & HORSEPOWER REGULATION • All boats must be propeller-driven and a minimum of 16 feet in length. All boats must be equipped with wheel steering; no other steering device will be permitted. No barges or similarly cumbersome craft will be permitted. Each boat must have all required U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment. Boats must contain a properly aerated livewell space to maintain alive a limit catch of bass. Maximum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition will be 250 horsepower, not to exceed the horsepower capacity set forth on the “Maximum Capacities” placard described below. Each boat must have a clearly legible “Maximum Capacities” (or comparably titled) placard that includes a maximum horsepower rating affixed to the boat by the manufacturer. The horsepower of the outboard engine must not exceed the maximum horsepower capacity specified on this placard or the 250-horsepower maximum set by MLF. By signing the entry form, contestants who provide their own boat agree to submit the boat and/or motor to an inspection by MLF personnel. Falsifying information on entry forms or altering the horsepower numbers on the motor or rating placard will be cause for disqualification from the tournament and may result in ineligibility of the team and club they represent to compete in future MLF tournaments. Fishing platforms must be factory-installed equipment or commercially available aftermarket equipment that is permanently installed in the boat. No portable platforms may be used in tournament competition. Fuel may be carried only in factory-installed (built-in) fuel tanks. Any additional fuel used during the tournament day must be purchased from a retail facility open to the public and pumped through a hose with a nozzle. The use of generators, other than solar or wind-powered generators, is prohibited in contestant boats during tournament hours on all competition days. No additional marine electronics, marine/automotive batteries or generators may be installed or used in MLF supplied boats.

12. PERMITTED FISHING METHODS • Fishing is defined as having a lure attached to a line and a rod and reel with the rod in hand. All bass must be caught alive in a conventional sporting manner. All lures must adhere to state regulations. Only artificial lures may be used, with the exception of pork trailers and biodegradable soft baits. Alabama rigs and similar umbrella-type rigs are limited to a maximum of five wires with a maximum of five spinners, five lures and three hooks (single or treble) unless state regulations are more restrictive, in which case state regulations prevail. Only ONE fishing rod may be used at a time. Trolling as a method of fishing is strictly prohibited. Trolling is defined as operating the combustion engine to extend a cast or lengthen a retrieve. All bass caught while sight-fishing must be hooked inside the mouth and immediately shown to your MLF camera operator, if assigned, for verification. 

13. PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS & BOUNDARIES • Teams may fish anywhere on tournament waters within the boundaries defined on FLWFishing.com that is available to the public and accessible by boat except areas posted or otherwise designated as “off-limits,” “no boats,” “keep out,” “restricted,” “no trespassing” or “no fishing” (or similar language or markings intended to restrict public access for fishing or safety) by MLF, commercial property owners and/or local, state or federal officials, or within 50 yards of a contestant’s boat that was first anchored. An anchored boat is a boat held in a stable position by a line attached to a weight or by a Power-Pole, Talon or similar shallow water anchor with the trolling motor in the up position. All fishing must be conducted from the boat. At no time may a contestant leave the boat to land a fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. The cutting of trees, bushes and/or logs after the off-limits date and/or the removal of official commercial, local, state or federal barricades at any time to make an area more accessible by boat or gain access for fishing is strictly prohibited and may result in disqualification from the tournament. The use of cables, ropes, chains or any type of block and tackle system to maneuver a boat into fishing waters is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification from the tournament. Teams must leave and return to the check-in by boat. The boat must remain in the tournament waters during the tournament day. No tournament boat may be loaded on a trailer before the team using the boat presents their catch for weigh-in, except with the permission of the tournament director. In the event of equipment failure or emergency, the tournament director must be notified as soon as it is safe to do so. There are then two permitted methods of returning to the check-in: (1) by both contestants remaining in their boat and being towed by water, or (2) with permission from the tournament director, by one or both contestants entering the boat of another tournament contestant. Under these two conditions the team’s catch may be counted without a penalty (except for late penalties, dead-fish penalties or other penalties pertaining to other tournament rules) provided each team’s fish are adequately marked or separated so as to provide clear distinction of each catch to the tournament director. Teams that elect to return to the check-in by any other means than cited above will forfeit their day’s catch to that point in time of the tournament day. Abandoning a boat and leaving it adrift without proper tie-off or anchoring after a mechanical failure may result in disqualification of that day’s weight. Any team returning to the check-in point will be eligible to restart and resume competition under the supervision of the tournament director or his designated tournament official. It is the sole responsibility of teams to locate the tournament director to request a restart. Teammates must remain together at all times and within sight of each other until check-in. The momentary condition of being out of sight of each other for restroom breaks is permitted. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification. 

14. CHECKPOINTS • There will be only one checkpoint for boat check in the morning and one check-in point in the afternoon. Failure to go through boat check and checkout in the morning or failure to check in at the check-in point will result in disqualification. All fishing must cease upon check-in.

15. LATE PENALTY • Teams must be down off pad, no longer fishing and within sight of the MLF check-in official at the afternoon checkpoint by their appointed time. Teams who are not at the designated afternoon checkpoint at the appointed time will be penalized 1 pound per minute, deducted from the total weight. Teams more than 15 minutes late will lose credit for that day’s weight. 

16. LIVE FISH • Every effort must be made to keep bass alive through the use of a properly aerated livewell. Four ounces will be deducted from the total weight for each dead bass presented for weigh-in.

17. SCORING • Scoring is determined by the pounds and ounces of each team’s catch during each tournament. Only largemouth, spotted, redeye, smallmouth or shoal bass, where permitted, are accepted species. No regurgitated forage or other foreign matter may be placed in a bass. The daily limit will be five bass per team unless conditions dictate a reduced limit for conservation purposes or the state or lake limit is less than five, in which case the reduced limits will prevail. After possessing the daily limit, contestants must cull immediately upon their next catch. Teams possessing more than the daily limit must notify the tournament director immediately upon discovery of the infraction and reduce their catch to the daily limit by releasing live bass. Teams possessing more than the daily limit will be penalized 2 pounds for each bass over the limit. Bass are considered in possession once placed in the boat and fishing or travel has resumed. The minimum length limit for bass will be 12 inches unless the state or lake limit is more than 12 inches or MLF sets a longer limit for a specific tournament, in which case, the state or lake limit or longer limit set by MLF for the tournament will prevail. Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the prescribed length limit will be penalized at the rate of 1 pound for each short bass presented. Bass presented for weigh-in with weight clips attached will be penalized at the rate of 4 ounces for each clip. Once bass are presented for weigh-in, the catch is final. No one may return to a boat to retrieve a bass mistakenly left behind. Each team’s catch must be presented in an official weigh-in bag. After a team’s catch is weighed, it must be turned over to MLF or officials designated by MLF for release unless otherwise instructed by the tournament director. 

18. TIES • 

QUALIFYING EVENTS – Total number of fish for the tournament will break ties. If a tie remains, it will be broken first by total number of live fish for the tournament, then the earliest entry for the tournament and then by lottery.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – The heaviest one-day catch for the tournament will break ties on day 2. If a tie remains, it will be broken first by total number of fish for the tournament, then by total number of live fish for the tournament and then by highest finish in the qualifying event from which each team advanced. If a tie remains below the cut position, team will remain tied with awards combined and split equally among the tied teams. If a tie remains for the cut position, both teams will advance to day 3. Ties on day 3 will be resolved by day-2 standings. If a tie remains, it will be broken first by the heaviest one-day catch for the tournament, then by the second heaviest one-day catch for the tournament, then by total number of fish for the tournament, then by total number of live fish for the tournament and then by highest finish in the qualifying event from which each team advanced. If a tie remains below first place, teams will remain tied with awards combined and split equally among the tied teams. If a tie remains for first place, it will be broken by a one-hour fish-off.

19. LOGO DISPLAY & MEDIA COVERAGE • Contestants must wear their own apparel representing their college or university during all events. If a jersey worn during competition (anytime from takeoff through weigh-in) includes display of any logo other than a school logo, the jersey must also include a minimum 2-inch tall MLF logo on the upper chest. Logo restrictions may apply for the televised College Fishing National Championship and will be provided to qualifying teams.

20. ALCOHOL & TOBACCO  During all days of competition any and all alcohol and tobacco logos are prohibited and may not be worn or displayed. Vaping, CBD and hemp product logos are not considered tobacco logos. Smoking and vaping are not allowed in the weigh-in line. 

21. TRUTH VERIFICATION TEST • Each contestant agrees to submit, by signature on the tournament entry form, to a polygraph or voice stress analysis examination and to abide by its conclusion. Failure to pass an examination will result in disqualification from the tournament. Truth verification tests will be used at MLF’s sole discretion, and the determination of the meaning of the results will be made solely by MLF.

22. INSURANCE • Liability insurance with coverage in reasonable amounts is required of all contestants in College Fishing tournaments. Proof of insurance must be with the boat being used and must cover all passengers in the boat. Random checks will be conducted. Failure to provide proof of insurance when requested by the tournament director may result in disqualification. 

23. CAPTIONS • The captions at the beginning of each paragraph are intended to facilitate convenience in referring to the various rules. The captions are not part of the substance of the paragraph and should not be used in construction of any paragraph or of this overall set of rules.