California Bass Federation Tournament Rules

California Bass Federation Rules

Updated January 1, 2018


  1. RULE CHANGES: Great effort, study and research have gone into the formulation of these rules. The following rules of this tournament will remain unchanged, except for special tournaments conducted by the California Bass Federation, Inc., (hereby referred to as CBF). Interpretation and enforcement of these rules shall be left exclusively to the Tournament Director. In the event of a rule violation, the Tournament Director may impose such sanctions, as he deems appropriate, including, without limitation, disqualification, forfeiture of prizes and prohibition from participation in subsequent tournaments. The decision of the Tournament Director and tournament officials shall be final in all matters.


  1. PARTICIPANTS AND ELIGIBILITY: This tournament is open only to members of the CBF who are 16 years of age or older and who are active members of CBF/TBF affiliated chapters. Proof of age to the satisfaction of tournament officials is the responsibility of the potential competitor. DURING THE OFFICIAL PRACTICE AND COMPETITION DAYS OF ANY CBF TOURNAMENT EACH CONTESTANT MUST CARRY DOCUMENTED PROOF OF A MINIMUM OF $100,000 BOATING LIABILITY INSURANCE AND PRESENT IT TO ACBF TOURNAMENT OFFICIAL IF ASKED. Any candidate for competition who, in the judgment of the Tournament Director, is handicapped in such a manner as to unfairly hinder his partner or endanger the safety and well being of his partner or himself shall not be eligible. A PROPERLY COMPLETED AND SIGNED OFFICIAL ENTRY FORM MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR ON OR BEFORE THE APPLICATION DEADLINE DATE. THE DEADLINE DATE FOR EACH TOURNAMENT SHALL BE ON THE MONDAY, BY 6:00PM, PRECEEDING THE DATE OF THE TOURNAMENT. For a region to host a tournament, there must be at least 12 anglers or the tournament will be cancelled, NO EXCEPTIONS. Awards for “Angler of the Year” are based on an average of 18 anglers for all four tournaments. The California Bass Federation reserves the right to refuse entry to a tournament at any time.


  1. PRE-TOURNAMENT PRACTICE: There will be a 2-calendar day practice period immediately preceding the first day of the tournament. The tournament waters shall not be off limits to competitors preceding the tournament. During official practice, (2 days prior to tournament), and during the tournament, a competitor may not have the assistance or advice of anyone for the purposes of locating bass, nor enter the tournament waters with anyone for the purposes of locating bass, a professional guide, state or federal wildlife agency employee, or any other person deemed a “local expert” (If they have ever fished a tournament for money on that body of water, they are an “expert.”) on these tournament waters by the Tournament Director, unless he is a contestant in the tournament.  A member of the immediate family may fish during official practice days provided they have never been deemed a local expert, retired or otherwise, as described above. An immediate family member includes: father, mother, spouse, child or in-laws by marriage.  A person may enter and participate in other tournaments sanctioned on the water during the practice period. During the official practice and during the tournament, a competitor may not “SKIN DIVE” or “SCUBA DIVE” on the tournament waters. Each competitor agrees to report to the Tournament director any violation or infraction of these Tournament Rules. The failure to report violations or suggestions to violate these Rules, or false verification of weigh-in forms will be cause for disqualification. EACH COMPETITOR AGREES TO SUBMIT, BY HIS SIGNATURE ON THIS DOCUMENT, TO A TEST SHOULD HE BE ACCUSED OF ANY RULE VIOLATION. The administration and interpretation of the test shall be solely the responsibility of the Tournament Director, and his agents, and shall be used (or not used) at the discretion of the Tournament Director. Without limiting the foregoing, the Tournament director shall have sole discretion to select the place at which such test shall be administered, the individual who administers such test, and the scope of the questions which may be asked during such tests The Participant shall be available, at his expense, at the location selected by the Tournament Director and shall cooperate in all respects with such examination.


  1. SAFETY: Safe boat conduct must be observed at all times by tournament competitors. During the official practice and the tournament, each competitor is required to wear a Coast Guard approved chest-type life preserver. This preserver must be worn anytime the combustion engine is operating. This preserver must be strapped, snapped and zippered securely, and seated in the proper seats and maintained in that condition until the competitor reaches his fishing location and the combustion engine is shut off. Violation of this rule shall be reason for disqualification. The Tournament Director has the right to delay or cancel the start of an official tournament day because of bad weather or other factors that would endanger the safety of the competitors. Tournament waters may also be restricted at any time because of bad weather.


  1. SPORTSMANSHIP: Competitors in CBF tournaments are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification. Use of alcohol or drugs (other than those purchased over the counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) by any competitor during the official practice or during the tournament will not be tolerated and shall be cause for automatic disqualification from this and all future CBF tournaments. Maximum courtesy must be practiced at all times, especially with regard to boating and any line in the vicinity of non-competitors who may be on tournament waters. Any act of a competitor which reflects unfavorably upon the Society’s effort to promote fisheries conservation, clean waters, and courtesy shall be reason for disqualification. Any boater who fails a Quagga Mussel Inspection will be disqualified and forfeits their entry and options fees as well as all points.  Any non-boater affected by a Quagga Mussel disqualification will receive a full refund and still receive their 5 show up points. No alcoholic beverages or drugs (other than those purchased over the counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) shall be allowed in the boats during the official practice or competitions days or when in the weigh-in area until after all activities for weigh-in are completed. Chemical substance addiction or abuse, conviction of a felony or other crimes involving moral turpitude, or other conduct reflecting unfavorably upon the CBF’s efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship and compliance with tournament rules shall be grounds for rejecting any application for participation and for disqualification. During the tournament, a competitor may not use a CB radio, a VHF marine band radio, a cellular phone, or any other type of communications device for the purpose of locating or catching fish. Contestants are permitted to transmit by radio or telephone only in the event of an emergency. If so equipped, contestants may listen to the marine band weather information.


  1. TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT Only artificial lures may be used. No “live bait” or “prepared bait” will be permitted, with the exception of pork strips, rinds, etc. Only ONE casting, spin casting or spinning rod (8ft maximum length from butt of handle to rod tip) and reel may be used at any one time. All other types prohibited. Other rigs as specified above may be in boat ready for use; however, only ONE is permitted in use at any given time. All bass must be caught live and in a conventional sporting manner. ANYONE GUILTY OF SNATCHING OR SNAGGING FISH WILL HAVE THEIR DAYS CATCH DISQUALIFED. When visually fishing for all bass, all bass must be hooked inside of the mouth and must be verified by your partner before unhooked to be counted as a legal fish. Nets may be used to boat bass and are permitted in the boat at any time. The use of grippers in landing bass is prohibited.


  1. BOAT AND MOTOR: For the safety of all contestants. ALL BOATS MUST NOT EXCEED B.I.A. RATINGS ALL BOATS MUST BE EQUIPPED WITH SOME TYPE OF OPERABLE IGNITION KILL SWITCH. This ignition kill device must be attached to the driver’s body any time the combustion engine is operating. Anytime the combustion engine is operating and in gear, there must be a driver in the driver’s seat in full control of the boat. The cast wireless kill switch is legal in all CBF events. Fishing boats may be used that are 15 feet or more in length. Any raised platform or decks cannot be higher than the gunnel of the boat. A small electric trolling motor may be used for slow maneuvering. Trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited. ALL BLADDER tanks and any other type of gas tanks that are not installed by the boat manufacturer are prohibited. Additional gas tanks that are factory options and installed by a manufacturers authorized dealer are legal. Boats that do not have factory installed gas tanks are restricted to a maximum of 18 gallons of gasoline in tanks that meet U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Gas tanks must be properly secured or strapped in a boat. NO “barges” or similar cumbersome craft will be permitted. NO BOAT EQUIPPED WITH “STICK STEERING” SHALL BE PERMITTED TO BE USED DURING THE OFFICIAL PRACTICE OR DURING TOURNAMENT BY ANY COMPETITOR. The Tournament Director shall make the definition of “stick steering”. A competitor answering affirmatively the question, “Will you bring a boat and motor?” will be expected to make that boat and motor available for tournament use by himself and his daily partner, if so requested by tournament officials. Those answering the same question negatively will be presumed not to have a boat and motor available and will be paired with one who does when possible. It shall be the responsibility of the fishing partners to mutually agree on whose boat to use and a basis for sharing operational expenses. If partners are unable to agree, the Tournament Director shall make such determination, which shall be binding upon the partners.


  1. BASIC BOAT EQUIPMENT: Every boat must have all required Coast Guard safety equipment. In addition, it must have a functional bilge pump and LIVEWELL SPACE, PROPERLY AERATED TO ADEQUATELY MAINTAIN ALIVE A LIMIT OF BASS BY BOTH FISHERMEN USING THE BOAT. The Tournament Director shall have the sole responsibility for determining whether aeration and capacity is “proper and adequate.”


  1. REGIONAL EVENT BOAT OPERATION AND EXPENSE: A full discussion MUST be held between the two partners prior to a morning departure as to the schedule of boat operations. This schedule must permit each partner equal time to fish from the front of the boat in a Draw circuit and to operate the trolling motor, to afford each partner the opportunity to fish his selected waters an equal number of hours. Non-boater must have water to go to, and at that time the boater will take the non-boater position. Distance traveled to fishing locations must be considered in order not to deprive either partner fishing time while traveling to and from fishing waters in a Draw circuit. If a contestant waives the above rights, he shall retain the right to select the fishing waters for one- half the tournament day in a Draw circuit. Any contestant who, in the judgment of the officials, operates the boat in such a manner as to unfairly handicap his partner shall be disqualified. The Non-Boater must pay half the day expenses (gas and oil); if not he/she could lose that days catch.


  1. PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS: The Tournament Director for each tournament shall establish Tournament waters for each tournament. Each competitor must obtain this information from the CBF. Fishing on the tournament waters is permitted anywhere except: Within 50 yards of any marina gas pump or within 50 yards of another competitor’s boat which was first anchored or secured in a fixed position, with the trolling motor stowed. No such boat shall permit selected competitors to fish within the 50-yard circle claimed by him, to the exclusion of any other competitor or waters set as off limits by the Tournament Director. Any water within these boundaries posted Off-Limits or No Fishing by state or federal agencies will be OFF LIMITS. Also, the live-bass release area established by the Tournament Director will be OFF LIMITS and will be announced at the Tournament Briefing. Only that water open to ALL public fishing will be considered tournament waters. Any waters closed to public fishing will be closed to these tournament contestants. All angling must be done from the boat. Competitors wishing to change fish habitat by placing any object in the tournament waters may do so if such action does not violate state or federal regulations.


  1. CONTESTANTS MUST REMAIN IN BOAT: Contestants must not depart the boat to land fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. Boats must remain in tournament waters during tournament days. Contestants must leave and return to official checkpoint by boat. In the event of a needed restroom break, contestants are allowed to leave the boat upon which all fishing must cease until partners are back together in the boat. Both competitors must remain in boat at all times except in case of dire emergency. In such an emergency, competitors may be removed from their boat to: A boat operated by other competitors or a rescue boat. Partners must remain together at all times, in sight of each other and each other’s catch under the conditions cited above, in order for their catch of that day to be scored in the tournament except when in the event of a breakdown either the boater or non-boater decides to stay with the boat and the other angler returns to the weigh-in in another competitors boat. At the time the angler who decides to stay with the disabled boat will be disqualified for that day because of the unsupervised creel and the other angler returning in the competitors boat must cease fishing for the day. Both anglers may also return in a competitors or a rescue boat but must cease fishing for the day. If a competitor must violate any of the above conditions (to contact a tournament official by phone or other means or to report an emergency or breakdown), both competitors must cease fishing at this point, and their catch must be verified by a tournament official in order to be counted in the tournament. If after the emergency situation is resolved by tournament officials and enough time is left for the competitors to resume fishing, a RESTART will be allowed and the competitors will continue and their catch will be counted. This applies only to dire emergency situations. Trailering of boats during tournament hours is prohibited, except by the direction of tournament officials.


  1. OFFICIAL CHECKPOINT: There shall be only one official point for checkout in the morning, and check-in in the afternoon and this point shall be designated at the tournament briefing, and entree forms for am check-in times. At the time of check-out, all competitors and their boats shall be in full conformance with all rules set forth by the Tournament Director; at check-in, all boats shall identify themselves by means of the numbered buttons and proceed immediately to the designated weigh-in area. Partners must stay together and buttons must be turned in at check-in.


  1. SCORING: Tournament standings, auxiliary awards and final winners shall be determined by the pound and fractions there of weight of each competitor’s catch during the competition days of the tournament. Only Largemouth bass, Spotted bass, Red Eye bass or Smallmouth bass will be weighed. The limit shall be 5 of the above species and varieties per day in a Draw circuit, unless the prevailing state limit is less than 5, or a special limit is established for a particular tournament by the tournament officials, in which case the state limit, or special limit, shall be the tournament limit. All competitors are bound by the prevailing statutes and regulations of the various states within which they fish. At no time shall a competitor have reduced to possession more than the limits described above. Tournament officials will conduct checks for violation of this provision, and in the event a competitor has reduced more than the above-described limits to possession, the competitor shall be disqualified. The official length for bass shall be determined by the Tournament Director and announced at the Tournament Briefing. In most cases, it will be the longest state limit covering the tournament waters. Only bass as described above which measure the official length or more on the longest straight line, shall be weighed in. Bass presented for weigh-in which fail to measure the official length shall accrue penalties at the rate of 1 pound of each such bass. This penalty shall be deducted from the total score of the competitor. Any bass that appears to have been mangled, mashed, mauled or otherwise altered will be weighed and credited only at the discretion of tournament officials. After a competitor checks in at the official checkpoint he MUST present all LEGAL fish in his possession to a tournament official to be counted measured and weighed. Once a competitor’s catch is handed to a tournament official to be measured, counted and verified that contestant may not return to his boat and that will be their catch for the day. Bass must not be stringered at any time during the tournament. It has been determined that stringering decreases the chances of a bass survival, and bass thus handled may be disqualified. Specially designed bags which increase survival rate will be furnished by the Tournament Director, and these bags must be used for the weigh-in. Fish will be measured using a FLAT BOARD, hanging mouth open @ 45 degree angle, Minimum length 13″, and we will fan the tail. The Tournament Director may change the size limit to accommodate special lake or water regulations.


  1. DON’T KILL YOUR CATCH: Each competitor is expected to keep his bass alive by use of a properly aerated livewell. The few bass, which do not survive, will be used for scientific study and for charity. Livewell checks will be done by the non-boater.


  1. PENALTY POINTS: For each legal dead bass presented to weigh-in officials, the competitor shall be penalized the following, to be a half of a pound penalty (.50 or 8 ounces). There is no CULLING of dead fish. The Tournament Director or his designees shall have sole authority for assessing penalty points. If a participants big fish is weighed in dead that participants big fish option weight will also reflect the .50 pound weight penalty. The Tournament Director and his designated appointees shall have sole authority for accessing penalty points.


  1. LATE PENALTY: Anglers late for the AM check-in will be penalized 2 pounds and after 15 minutes they will be disqualified from that days competition. Competitors who are not in the official checkpoint area as described in Rule 12 at the appointed time shall be penalized at the rate of 1 pound per minute to be deducted from the total weight of his catch that day, including any weight to be counted toward a “lunker award,” for each one (1) minute he is late. Any competitors more than 15 minutes late shall lose all credit for that day’s catch. There, shall be no excuse for tardiness and in no case shall a competitor be allowed to make up “lost time.” After proper recognition at the check-in point, competitors will be allowed ample time to proceed to the weigh-in site; however, all fishing must cease upon check-in. After the tournament begins, fishing the tournament waters is prohibited except during the tournament hours. Exact starting and check-in times will be announced at the Tournament Briefing and on entry forms for early check in times.


  1. TIES: In case of a tie the following tie breakers will be used in order: 1. The individual with the largest number of legal fish weighed in during the competition; 2. Individual with the largest number of legal LIVE fish weighed in during the competition; 3. Individual with the largest bass; 4. In the unlikely event that after the tiebreakers are employed, then a flip of a coin will be used to determine the winner. The winner of the coin toss will take the higher position and will be rewarded the money and points. Ties for lesser positions shall be resolved by means selected by the Tournament Director.


  1. PAIRING OF CONTESTANTS: Two contestants will be assigned to each boat the morning of the tournament, contestants signing up without a partner WILL be paired in a boat on boat draw. Announcement of your fishing partner shall be made at the Tournament Briefing, which MUST BE ATTENDED by each competitor, all draws will be done the morning of the tournament. The Tournament Briefing will be held approximately 15 minutes after check in time listed on the entry form, any competitor not in attendance will be disqualified, the official time shall be according to the Tournament Directors watch set as close to PST (or PDT) as practical. It shall be the responsibility of each partner to appear at a mutually agreed upon location with sufficient time remaining to check out at the official checkpoint and start on time. Tournament officials shall have no responsibility for finding missing partners. The Tournament Director, at his sole discretion, may reassign partners prior to the morning take-off. It is suggested that a minimum of 30 minutes is required for preparation to depart to the checkout point. When two contestants check out at the beginning of the day, they must stay together and within sight of each other and each other’s catch throughout the day until the weigh-in is completed except in case of dire emergency (See Rule 11). In a draw circuit, a contestant must not allow any bass caught by him to be counted on the score of another contestant. In such a case, both contestants shall be disqualified from this tournament and from all future tournaments conducted by The Bass Federation


  1. None of the above rules shall prohibit a properly designated tournament official from approaching or boarding any competitor’s boat at any time during the “warm-up” period or the competition days.


  1. PATCHES AND/OR SIGNAGE: CBF encourages the use of patches, logos and other signage to promote sponsors. Realizing we are entering into a television media field that MAY sometimes restrict the use of patches, logos, signage, etc. that promote or advertise products, CBF reserves that right to RESTRICT THE USE OF SUCH SIGNAGE in such tournaments with as much advance notice as possible to the contestants.


  1. Anglers must fish 3 out of 4 tournaments in a Region with a minimum of 250 points to qualify to fish in the State Championship. Anglers fishing 4 tournaments in a region will have one throw out, but will keep their show up points. The scoring is 10 show up points and 100 points for first place counting down one point per position (example, 110 total for first, 109 for second, etc.). Each region will qualify up to 20 anglers with a minimum of 250 points for the State Championship. The top 50 percent of those qualified for the State Championship will be boaters and the remaining 50 percent will be non-boaters. The Travelers circuit requires six tournaments in at least three different regions with a minimum of 450 points to qualify, the best six are counted and all others are dropped. Travelers region will qualify up to 20 anglers with a minimum of 450 points and the top 50 percent will be boaters and the remaining 50 percent will be non-boaters. Any angler that qualifies for the State Championship in multiple regions will qualify in the highest finishing region. Angler of the year for each Region will be based on all tournaments fished in that Region. There will be no throw out for the angler of the year award and the Region must average a minimum of 18 anglers per tournament to qualify an angler of the year. Travelers circuit angler of the year will be based only on the top six tournaments.


  1. TOC Co-Angler Promotion: If there is an imbalance of boaters and co-anglers for the State Championships, the State Tournament Director may choose to promote co-anglers to boater positions based on the following rules.  Co-anglers will be promoted based on the final season position of their respective mother region only.  A mother region is defined as the region an angler fished the most tournaments.  If a qualifying boater, within their mother region, relinquishes their boater position for a co-angler position or chooses not to fish the TOC, the State Tournament Director may promote the first in-line qualifying co-angler (non-boater), of the same mother region, to a boater position.  Additional promotions, within the region, may occur after one promotion has occurred for all applicable regions.  The priority order for promotions across applicable regions will be based on the average tournament field size for the season (e.g. Reg 1 – 42 anglers/tournament, Reg 7 – 50 anglers/tournament means Reg 7 will get the first promotion and Reg 1 will get the second and so on).  There will be no promotions for the Travelers Region.


  1. CBF State Championships: The California Bass Federation State Championships will be a boater/co-angler event. The Boater will control all operations of the boat and trolling motor unless the co-angler has explicit permission from the boater or in the case of an emergency. The Boater will fish from the front of the boat only.  Co-anglers will fish from the back deck or seating area only. Any contestant who, in the judgement of the officials, operates the boat in such a manner as to unfairly handicap his partner shall be disqualified. The co-angler must pay half the day expenses (gas and oil); if not, he/she could lose that day’s catch.


Boaters will compete amongst other boaters for their winnings/options and co-anglers will compete amongst co-anglers for their winnings/options.  The Big Bass option will be paid daily for the largest bass caught each day.


  1. Club Championships at California Bass Federation State Championships


All qualified top club finishers will compete for the CBF Club Champions (Boater and Co-angler) as a part of the CBF State Championships. The top finishing club boater will be awarded the CBF Club Champion – Boater. The top finishing club co-angler will be awarded the CBF Club Champion – Co-Angler. All Club Championship qualifiers who fish the CBF State Championships will be qualified to attend the TBF National Semi-Finals.


In general, Club Championship competitors are not competing for a place on the CBF State Team and may not be on the CBF State Team, regardless of their finish in the event.  The only exception is if a Club Championship competitor also qualified for the CBF State Championships via the CBF Regional Events.  In this case, the competitor is competing in both the CBF Club Championship and the CBF State Championship.


Club member qualifications and Good Standing club status is defined on the California Bass Federation website.


  1. All unspecified tournament rules will be superseded by the TBF and/or the FLW Costa rules. All final rulings will be at the discretion of the Tournament Director.



Hot News

Announcing the TBF National Semi Finals Qualifiers!

ALL NSF Qualifiers: To receive your benefits, you must sign up for the NSF as soon as possible.  You should pay your entry fee on your own.  When you arrive at the TBF NSF event, you will receive the cash you are entitled to at the NSF pairings meeting....