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Tournament Rules

All fishing tournaments have rules, whether it is a big walleye tournament or a monthly bass club outing. the rules vary a lot, but there are some standards for all. For example, a minimum size is normal in all these of tournaments, as is a number limit.

Some of the rules are easy to understand - no one is likely to not know what a five bass limit in tournaments means. Sometimes you mess up and bring in more, and the punishment may vary a lot. For example, some tournaments make you cull down to your limit by releasing your biggest fish first! Others make you release any you choose but impose a one pound penalty.

Bringing in "short" fish can be from trying to measure too quick, or from not understanding the rules. For example, it is customary to measure bass on a board by closing their mouth and then sweeping their tail across. If it touches the line, it is legal. BUT, if you measure too quickly and do not close the mouth completely, the fish will measure longer than it really is. Many people lose weight or fish because they do not measure carefully.

Most tournaments have off-limits areas, for example within 50 meters of a gas dock at a marina. One of the more unusual examples I have seen was on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes - we could fish anywhere on either lake in the state of Kentucky - we could not cross state lines to fish.

Most tournaments also have a boat size and motor horsepower limit. For years BASS restricted horsepower to 150 in all its tournaments, and that was the best selling size. With that restriction eliminated, boats now are bigger and carry bigger motors.

A recent controversy over foul hooking a bass will make many folks check their rules. Most tournaments say fish must be caught in a sporting manner. Some states say fish hooked anywhere other then in the mouth are not caught in a sporting manner and must be released.

In all cases, state laws must be followed and participants must have licenses to fish. It pays to know the rules if you fish a tournament!

Do you fishing tournaments? Do you know the rules? Tell me about it. If so, you can also post information about it for others on my message board - you must register to post but can read the board as a guest. Also, if you have thoughts you want to share about this topic, let me know about it at fishing@aboutguide.com. for a "Fishtale" or discuss it in the chat room on every night at 8:00 EDT. Tell others what you like.

ONE YEAR AGO THIS WEEK - 09/21/98 - Worm Rigs - Ways to rig and fish plastic worms.

TWO YEARS AGO THIS WEEK - 09/22/97 - Brackish Water Fishing - Where salt and freshwater mix, fishing can be fantastic. Special conditions must be considered though..

Check out Coming Next Week - Next week's column topic, contest prize and new additions to the resources lists.

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