1. INTERPRETATION & ENFORCEMENT • 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 pro 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, disqualification from the entire tournament, a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $5,000 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. PAYBACK & PARTICIPATION • Payback is based on the number of paid entries. Participation is open only to members of FLW/MLF who are 18 years of age or older and have qualified or otherwise received an invitation to compete. Any person’s participation in any tournament is at the sole discretion of MLF officials. Any pro 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 marshal, other competitors or the boating public may not be eligible to participate. All pros must have 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.
The 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit entry fee is $30,000 for the season. Payments are not made event by event. Payments must be paid in full and on schedule to maintain eligibility. Payments are due as follows:
Pros are expected to fish all six qualifying tournaments. A pro may be permitted to miss a tournament for proper cause with prior approval from the tournament director. Missing a tournament does not relieve a pro from his/her obligation to pay the full entry fee for the season. There are no refunds for missed events. Missing an event without prior approval will result in ineligibility to participate in future Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit tournaments. PAYMENTS ARE NONTRANSFERABLE AND NONREFUNDABLE.Payments not received by the installment deadline listed above may result in ineligibility to participate in future Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit tournaments.
3. POINT STANDINGS & TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT TITLE ADVANCEMENT • 200 points are awarded to the winner of each qualifying tournament, 199 to 2nd, 198 to 3rd, etc. All pros who receive weight credit receive points. The top pro from the point standings after the six qualifying tournaments (ties resolved by total weight, then total number of fish, then total number of live fish) wins the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year title. The top 48 pros from the point standings after the six qualifying tournaments (ties resolved by total weight, then total number of fish, then total number of live fish) qualify for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE. The 2021 Angler of the Year and 2021 TITLE champion qualify for the 2022 TITLE provided they compete in the 2022 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit.
4. NO INFORMATION • Beginning November 30, 2020, pros may not purposely, knowingly or intentionally obtain information or advice from noncontestants about locating or catching fish on tournament waters that would give them a competitive advantage over other contestants. Pros are permitted to talk with other Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pros about tournament waters and share tackle until they are eliminated from competition, at which time they are considered noncontestants. Pros are allowed to research public information such as maps, internet search engines, print material, etc. and to purchase charts and maps through commercially available sources. Pros are prohibited from receiving waypoints from ANY individual, including other pros. 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 or commercially available sources. Social media pages must be fan pages that are open to the public. Pros who are licensed guides may fish with clients on tournament waters until restricted access begins. Pros may participate as pros/boaters in MLF tournaments and other pro/am tournaments featuring random partner draws until restricted access begins. Pros who qualified prior to November 30, 2020, for a team tournament championship held prior to the restricted access date may contact the tournament director and receive an exemption to compete in the championship. Any pro who inadvertently receives information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters must contact the tournament director as soon as practical and share the information. If the information is determined to be relevant, the tournament director will share it with the entire field. For 2022, the no information provisions of this rule become effective as soon as a pro learns of tournament waters from anyone.
5. RESTRICTED ACCESS • Thirty (30) days prior to the first practice day until the start of the off-limits, pros are only permitted on tournament waters alone or accompanied by another pro in the tournament, approved media representatives or guests approved by the tournament director. With prior approval from the tournament director, pros may participate as pros/boaters in MLF tournaments and other pro/am tournaments featuring random partner draws during this period. With prior approval from the tournament director, pros may also serve as boat captains in High School Fishing tournaments during this period. A list of pros confirmed in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will be posted at FLWFishing.com.
Tournament Restricted Access Begins
Okeechobee Jan. 9, 2021
Smith Feb. 6, 2021
Murray Mar. 20, 2021
Eufaula Apr. 10, 2021
Potomac River May 15, 2021
St. Lawrence River Jun. 26, 2021
Mississippi River – La Crosse – TITLE Jul. 15, 2021
6. OFF-LIMITS, PRACTICE & COMPETITION • Tournament waters will go off-limits to pros 13 days prior to the first practice day in all tournaments. Pros may not enter tournament waters to fish, test equipment, sightsee, or for any reason without MLF permission during the off-limits period. Beginning with practice and extending through competition, pros may not place markers, brush or other physical fish attractors, including chum of any kind, in tournament waters nor may they have someone do so on their behalf. Beginning with practice and extending through competition, pros may not participate in the practice of “hole sitting” by anyone. Pros eliminated after each round of competition are considered noncontestants. Tournament waters will reopen for practice three days prior to registration day at qualifiers. No practice is permitted at night during the designated practice period just before each tournament. Pros may only be on the water from 30 minutes before sunrise through 30 minutes after sunset on the designated practice days listed below. This includes running to and from a fishing location. Pros may practice alone, with an approved media representative or a guest arranged by MLF. Media representatives and guests are not permitted to fish or assist in locating fish. Flights over tournament waters, including drones, are not permitted beginning with the start of the off-limits period, extending through practice and competition days. Drones are permitted by approved media representatives working on a pro’s behalf. Pros may not view drone video prior to or during a tournament unless the video is made public on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube and MLF is tagged. 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 public. Social media pages must be fan pages that are open to the public. Media representatives must get approval from the tournament director prior to flying a drone. Passenger flights that momentarily cross tournament waters en route to the tournament location are permitted. Tournament waters will be closed to all pros on registration day.
Tournament Off-limits Practice Days
Okeechobee Jan. 26-Feb. 7 & Feb. 10, 2021 Feb. 8-9, 2021
Smith Feb. 23-Mar. 7 & Mar. 10, 2021 Mar. 8-9, 2021
Murray Apr. 6-18 & Apr 21, 2021 Apr. 19-20, 2021
Eufaula Apr. 27-May 9 & May 12, 2021 May 10-11, 2021
Potomac River Jun. 1-13 & Jun. 16, 2021 Jun 14-15, 2021
St. Lawrence River Jul. 13-25 & Jul. 28, 2021 Jul. 26-27, 2021
Mississippi River – La Crosse – TITLE Aug. 1-13 & Aug. 16, 2021 Aug. 14-15, 2021
7. REGISTRATION & PRETOURNAMENT MEETING • Each pro must register in person at the designated site. In an emergency or due to an MLF sponsor obligation, pros may request permission from the tournament director to send a person who is 18 years of age or older to represent them. If permission is granted, noncontestants can represent one pro; pros can represent themselves and one other pro. This representative must attend the pretournament meeting to record flights, takeoff time, check-in time, off-limits areas, size and creel limits, and any other relevant tournament rule information. Registration hours are 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. local time the day before each tournament’s start date. Pros registering between 1-1:15 p.m. will pay a $100 late fee that will be donated to the MLF Foundation. Pros who fail to notify the tournament director and are more than 15 minutes late for registration may forfeit their entry fee and not be entered in the tournament. It is mandatory that all pros or their representatives attend the pretournament meeting that will be held at 1:30 p.m. local time the day before each qualifier. Being late for the pretournament meeting will result in a $100 late fee that will be donated to the MLF Foundation. Pros not present or represented at the pretournament meeting may forfeit their entry fee and not be entered in the tournament. Virtual pretournament meetings may be held in place of in-person meetings when such meetings are not possible.
8. PAIRINGS • Pros and marshals will be paired by random draw and will receive a text message with their boat number, flight time and pro or marshal’s name and phone number. All pros or their representatives must contact their assigned marshal following the marshal briefing. Pros and marshals should advise each other of their respective lodging and phone numbers and establish a meeting time and place for the following morning’s takeoff. The tournament director, at his sole discretion, may reassign marshals prior to takeoff.
9. SAFETY • Safe boating must be observed at all times. The provisions of this rule apply during practice and from boat check until weigh-in each day of the tournament. Each pro and any person practicing with a pro is required to wear a fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device anytime the combustion engine is running. All boats must be equipped with a factory-installed emergency ignition-shutoff device that must be securely attached to the driver’s body with a standard-length, factory tether whenever the combustion engine is running. Pros 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. Pros and marshals may leave their boat and seek shelter in bad weather or when danger is imminent. They must, however, stay within sight of each other. Pros 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.
10. SPORTSMANSHIP • All pros 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 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:
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 by returning the entry fee (minus deposit), to disqualify a pro or impose any penalty outlined in paragraph 1.
11. BOAT OPERATION • Pros will have complete control of boat operation and waters to be fished. For safety concerns in rough water or swift current, in the event of an outboard or trolling motor breakdown or during an emergency, marshals may operate the trolling motor or the outboard but may not fish at any time. Pros may only use mobile communication devices, including but not limited to, cell phones, tablets, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc., during tournament hours in response to an emergency, to communicate with lockmasters about locking, to communicate with the tournament director or to communicate with MLF editors or producers. Pros 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 pros place calls or texts except as outlined above. At no time during tournament hours may pros read or discuss social media posts from other pros. At the request of their pro partner, a marshal may use a cell phone to assist the pro with his or her social media updates. Marshals are not, however, obligated to assist a pro with social media updates, as their primary function is to communicate with MLF editors and producers. Marshals are not permitted to smoke if requested not to do so by their pro. Pros are expected to compete every day for which they are qualified; failure to do so may result in ineligibility to compete in future MLF tournaments. If a special circumstance arises that inhibits a pro’s ability to compete, the tournament director may allow the pro to withdraw from competition and maintain the weight caught to that point.
12. BOAT & HORSEPOWER REGULATION • Pros must use the same boat for the entirety of the season unless a replacement boat is required and approved by the tournament director due to mechanical failure. All boats must be propeller-driven, a minimum of 18 feet in length and have a rear deck. All boats must be equipped with wheel steering; no other steering device will be permitted. All boats must be equipped with a functioning POV camera focused on the front deck so as to provide a clear view of the pro fishing. The camera must record throughout each tournament day. Each day’s recording must be preserved until the next Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event and must be turned over to MLF upon request. 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. Minimum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition will be 150 horsepower. 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, pros agree to submit their 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 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 pro boats during tournament hours on all competition days.
13. 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. Marshals are not permitted to net fish or assist pros with fishing in any way. 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 not permitted. 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 marshal, MLF camera operator or remote POV camera for verification.
UMBRELLA RIGS DEFINED • 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 is 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. Traditional double fluke, front-runner, double drop-shot and popping cork rigs with a maximum of two hooks are grandfathered in and will be permitted in Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition unless otherwise restricted by state regulations.
14. PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS • Pros may fish anywhere on tournament waters 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) by MLF, commercial property owners and/or local, state or federal officials, or within 50 yards of a pro’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 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 pro leave the boat to land a fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. At no time may a marshal leave the boat 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. Pros 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 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 the pro and marshal remaining in their boat and being towed by water, or (2) with permission from the tournament director, by the pro or pro and marshal entering the boat of another tournament pro. Under these two conditions the pros catch may be counted without a penalty (except for late penalties, dead-fish penalties or other penalties pertaining to other tournament rules). Pros who 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 pro 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 pros to locate the tournament director to request a restart. Pros and marshals must remain together at all times and within sight of each other until the weigh-in verification is signed. The momentary condition of being out of sight of each other for restroom breaks is permitted.
15. 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.
16. LATE PENALTY • Pros who are not at the check-in area at the appointed time will be penalized 1 pound per minute, deducted from the total weight, including any weight to be counted toward the Big Bass Award. Any pro more than 15 minutes late will lose credit for that day’s weight.
17. 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.
18. SCORING • Scoring is determined by the pounds and ounces of each pro’s catch during each qualifying tournament. Only largemouth, spotted, redeye or smallmouth bass are accepted species. No regurgitated forage or other foreign matter may be placed in a bass. The daily limit in qualifying tournaments will be five bass 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, pros must cull immediately upon their next catch. Pros possessing more than the daily limit must notify the tournament director immediately upon discovery of the infraction and reduce his/her catch to the daily limit by releasing live bass. Pros 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, no one may return to a boat to retrieve a bass mistakenly left behind. Each pro’s catch must be presented in an official weigh-in bag. After a pro’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. On day 3, the top 50 pros based on combined weight from days 1 and 2 compete. On day 4, the top 10 pros based on combined weight from days 1, 2 and 3 compete, and the winner is determined by the heaviest combined weight from days 1, 2, 3 and 4.
19. TIES • The heaviest one-day catch for the tournament will break ties on day 2. If a tie remains, it will be broken by total number of fish for the tournament, then by total number of live fish for the tournament, and then by Angler of the Year standings. If a tie remains, pros will remain tied with pros tied below the cut position awarded points equally based on the tied position. For ties in money positions, awards will be combined and split equally among the tied pros. For ties in the cut position, each tied pro 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 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 Angler of the Year standings. If a tie remains below the cut position, pros will remain tied with awards combined and split equally among the tied pros and points awarded equally based on the tied position. For ties in the cut position, each tied pro will advance to day 4. Ties for first place on day 4 will be broken by a one-hour fish-off. All other ties will be resolved by day-3 standings. If a tie remains, it will be broken first by the heaviest one-day catch for the tournament, then by second heaviest one-day catch for the tournament, then by third 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 Angler of the Year standings. If a tie remains below first place, the pros will remain tied with awards combined and split equally among the tied pros and points awarded equally based on the tied position.
20. LOGO DISPLAY & MEDIA COVERAGE • During all days of competition any and all tobacco logos and logos of bass tournament organizations other than MLF are prohibited and may not be worn or displayed. Pros are expected to participate in media opportunities requested by MLF editors and producers during any day of competition. Pros will run their own boats every day of competition. Each boat must be wrapped. Each wrap must include a minimum 4-inch tall MLF logo on both sides of the boat above the rub rail and behind the seating area. MLF will provide logo files. The boat must also include the pros name on both sides of the boat above the rub rail and adjacent to the seating area. Pros must wear their own apparel with a minimum 2-inch tall MLF logo on the upper chest above their name and on the upper back above their name. A minimum 2-inch tall Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit logo must be displayed on the upper left shoulder/sleeve. Apparel as outlined above must be worn from takeoff through weigh-in. MLF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to prohibit any pro’s apparel or boat wrap that it finds to be offensive. Any pro wearing a nonapproved jersey or running a nonapproved boat wrap may be disqualified for that day and/or fined as outlined in paragraph 1. Temporary use of a nonwrapped boat is permitted with prior approval from the tournament director. On days 3 and 4 of qualifying tournaments and the entirety of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE, pros may not fish while using tobacco products. Smoking is not allowed in the weigh-in line during all days of competition. MLF may, at its sole discretion, place a camera operator or camera equipment in a tournament boat on any day of competition.
21. TRUTH VERIFICATION TEST • Each pro 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 of not less than $300,000 per occurrence is required of all pros in Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events. 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.