Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Rule No. 12 regarding Boat and Horsepower Regulation recently came under scrutiny after Major League Fishing pro Keith Poche’s day one weight was disqualified at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Mississippi River presented by OPTIMA Batteries.
The rule is written as follows:
12. BOAT & HORSEPOWER REGULATION • 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. 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. (Abbreviated for this article; full rules for the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit can be found at FLWFishing.com.)
Poche fished out of an aluminum boat with a 90-horsepower outboard motor on day one of the event, not meeting the minimum 150-horsepower outboard motor requirement for all anglers on the Pro Circuit.
“We have an obligation to our anglers and the sport to enforce the rules, in letter and intent, without exception,” says Kathy Fennel FLW Executive Vice President and General Manager. “These rules are readily available to all competitors and the general public. It’s unfortunate that Keith was unaware of our rule regarding the minimum outboard horsepower requirements, but we would have been doing a disservice to the other 199 anglers competing in the event had we not disqualified his weight for the day.”
The 150-horsepower outboard requirement rule was instituted in 2012, after pro John Cox used a 17-foot aluminum boat with a small 75-horsepower outboard engine to win the 2011 FLW Tour event at the Red River. The rule was implemented at the request of the FLW Tour pro field and has been reviewed by the advisory board every year since. It has never been brought up to be eliminated.
The rule regarding minimum outboard requirements only applies to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. There are no minimum outboard requirements for any other FLW circuits, including the Toyota Series, the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing.
Rules are evaluated on an annual basis through the angler board and released each fall for the following year’s events. Updated rules and details for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit are expected to be finalized in mid- to late-October 2020.