RULES / FAQ
What is the difference between a Pro and a AAA?
A Pro is an angler who possesses his/her own boat, trailer, and vehicle and always drives his or her boat during the event. AAA anglers, also known as a Co-Anglers or Amateurs, participate in the tournament without a boat and fish on a different Pro angler’s boat each day of the event. The AAA level allows novice anglers/boaters a chance to learn from their Pro’s each day, and eventually upgrade to the Pro level.
Who can enter the WON BASS Open events?
Anyone above the age of 16 can enter WON BASS Open events if that angler has paid membership for that season. Pro anglers (boaters) are encouraged to have safe and adequate tournament boats with a functioning live well and carry sufficient insurance for both the boat and passengers. All anglers must purchase a 2024 WON BASS Membership before their first event. B.A.S.S. Nation membership is also required before their first event if that angler wishes to qualify for the B.A.S.S. Nation 2025 Championship.
What does “Shared Weight” mean?
Since our events are Pro/Am style Opens, Pro and AAA anglers are paired with new partners each day of the event. The best 5 fish boated between the Pro and AAA each day will count toward their combined total weight, regardless of who catches the fish. Each day, the Pro and AAA will “share” the combined weight that is brought to the scale. No Pro and AAA will fish together twice in one event. “Big Fish” side pot catches are weighed in separately and must be identified as Pro or AAA big fish at the bump tank before approaching the weigh station.
Once I’ve registered online and paid my balance, do I still need to register at the lake prior to the event start date?
Yes! There are usually 2 registration days prior to each Open event. Our regional events run Wednesday through Friday. Registration will be available the Monday and Tuesday prior to each of those events. All anglers MUST attend at least 1 of the 2 registration opportunities to complete paperwork and acknowledge data needed for our tournament systems. The U.S. Open always runs Monday through Wednesday, and registration will be available on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the start date of the U.S. Open. If for some reason you cannot attend either registration opportunities, then you must communicate with staff prior to the event registration dates for that event.
Are there any “Official Practice” or “Off Limits” rules before the Opens in 2024?
There are no longer any “Official Practice” days prior to any WON BASS Open events. The “Official Tournament Rules” will start the first morning of that event. All DFW and State laws are still in effect prior to any event and must be followed. The Shasta Open, Clear Lake Open, Havasu Open and Mead Open will be “Off Limits” after 3:00 p.m. prior to the first day of competition. The U.S. Open will have “Off Limits” on Lake Mohave from sunup September 21st until safe light Saturday October 5, 2024. Sunday October 13, 2024 will also be off limits as well for U.S. Open Hall of Fame, Sponsors Expo, and partner pairing meeting.
OFFICIAL TOURNAMENT RULES
WON BASS OPEN TOURNAMENT RULES — Revised 11/16/22
The official tournament rules for WON BASS events, as follow, will govern pro circuit events. “Lake specific” revisions or exemptions, should any be necessary, will be posted on the WON BASS Web site, listed in the WON BASS paper, or announced at the mandatory rules/partner pairings meeting prior to the first day of the competition. WON BASS reserves the right to refuse any entry into its Open tournaments at the discretion of the tournament authority.
- Participation and Eligibility — There are no restrictions as to race, gender, creed or color of any WON BASS participant. Those participating under the age of 18 must have written consent and the release of liability from a parent or guardian, and the approval of the WON BASS Tournament Director. The minimum age for an angler who wants to fish in a Pro event as a Pro or AAA is 16. Any angler under 18 must get written permission of the Tournament Director 30 days in advance of the tournament, and have a legal guardian complete a release of liability form prior to the events start date. NOTE: There are only two classifications in Pro circuit events — Pro and AAA.
- Cooperation with Media/Promotion — Within the framework of reasonable requests, all contestants in WON BASS events will cooperate with media representatives covering said event. Likewise, participation in the tournament grants WON BASS the use of any pictures of contestants, accounts, or interviews with contestants it gathers for the lawful promotion of WON BASS and its tournament operations.
- Sportsmanship — The laws of sportsmanship and good judgment as well as courtesy towards others on and off the water will be adhered to at all times. Specifically, the use of obscene language or gestures is specifically forbidden at any time prior to, during, or after the event in the immediate area of the host marina, weigh-in area, lodging facilities, or tournament headquarters.
Tournament Protection Rule — Any act or inflammatory statement by any contestant that, in the opinion of the Tournament Authority, is detrimental to the bass tournament, damaging to organized bass fishing, to WON BASS, or any of its staff, sponsors, or to permitting agencies or their officers (such as park rangers, fisheries biologists, or other officials), during the tournament, may result in the temporary or permanent
suspension from all future WON BASS events. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH CONTESTANT to know these rules. A rules violation compromises the entire tournament field, not just your partner for the day.
- Alcoholic Beverages/Narcotics — Any contestant under the influence of, or in possession of, alcohol, barbiturates, marijuana, or any other controlled, illegal substance in his or her boat will result in the immediate disqualification of the offending party.
- Expenses — AAAs do not choose fishing locations nor do they operate the trolling motor except with the approval of the Pro contestant. As such, they are not required to share expenses for the day. However, etiquette and courtesy deems that the AAA offers to share a portion of the day’s expenses with the Pro angler. This offer to share in expenses is “NOT” performance based, but rather based on distance and effort throughout the day.
Safety — Each boat entered in a WON BASS event must be equipped with a working ignition “Kill” switch, which must be attached to the driver whenever the outboard motor is running. Also, any time the outboard motor
is in operation during prescribed tournament hours, the driver and all passengers must wear and secure their Coast Guard approved (Type III PFD) life jackets. SOS suspender types that meet Type V PFD performance with Type III or Type II performance are allowed. Drivers are responsible for maintaining, knowing their craft, and operating their boat in a safe and courteous manner. Unsafe or reckless driving, excessive speed, and violation of local laws will not be tolerated. Boat drivers who purposefully endanger their passengers and/or other boats on the water during the official tournament period face the possibility of disqualification from the tournament and potential expulsion from the WON BASS tournament trail.
Insurance & Liability — It is the sole responsibility of the boat owner to carry and have proof of public liability insurance covering them and their passengers. All contestants are required to sign a waiver absolving the tournament staff, sponsors, co-sponsors, tournament venues, and their employees from any responsibility for any damage or personal injury sustained because of their participation in the tournament or related activities.
Contestants are required to have in their possession and upon request provide proof of insurance to the tournament director. Failure or refusal to provide proof of insurance upon demand may result in disqualification from the event.
- Licenses & Registration — Each contestant must have in possession a valid and current fishing license with the appropriate stamps governing the fishable waters of the event. Penalty for such an offense is subject disqualification for that day’s catch. Additionally, contestants must have current, valid registration for their boats to be eligible to fish the event.
- Lake Closures — There are off-limits periods for WON BASS Open tournaments, (see posted schedules for specific closed periods or for closed areas preceding the U.S. Open and our Open events). No angler or representative, relative, etc., shall be on the lake in the hours after the day’s weigh-in or before the start of the next day’s activities, except to return directly to a launch site for boat retrieval or other specified action such as motor repair testing as authorized by the tournament authority. The AZ, NV and CA Open events will be “Off-Limits” starting 3:00 PM the day before the tournament start date. The U.S. Open will have a 2 week “Off-limit” period the week before the start of the tournament. Again, see event specifics for each event prior to the event start date. There will be NO OFFICIAL practice before any Open event. Any infractions the week before the event may be grounds for disqualification.
- Fish Transport — Transporting live fish taken in one area and releasing them in another for the purpose of “seeding” or establishing a population in the new area during a practice period, during the tournament, or 30 days prior to a tournament is strictly prohibited and grounds for disqualification.
Fishable Waters/Off Limit Areas — Fishable waters in WON BASS tournaments include any water reachable by boat which is open to all contestants and which is not otherwise restricted by local, state, or federal regulations.
All fishing and landing of fish must be done from the boat. A contestant my not leave the boat to untangle a fishing line or lure from any structure (trees, rocks, docks, etc.) or part of the boat. No contestants are permitted to leave their boat in an effort to propel or float their boat to or from fishing waters they could not otherwise reach; however, the use of push poles is permitted. The host marina including the area inside the “no-wake” buoys
is always off limits to fishing. Other marinas or areas may also be designated as “off limits” due to specific lake rules and regulations. All off-limits areas will be denoted during the mandatory partner pairings meeting.
- Equipment/Tackle/Technique Restrictions — Each Pro tournament entered boat must be a minimum of 17 feet in length. Engines may not exceed the BIA horsepower rating for the boat hull. Dual engine outboard vessels are prohibited. “Stick” steering boats are prohibited as well. Each boat must be equipped with a functioning, aerated live well. Boats must have rear seat available for AAA partner should they request one. Only artificial lures may be used. No live bait, cut or prepared baits other than pork rind or mammal hide may be used. Fish “attractants and scents” may be utilized. All fishing must be accomplished with one rod and reel combination used at one time, meaning each cast must be made and line retrieved before another cast may be made with another outfit. A contestant may have an unlimited number of rods and reels on the boat rigged and ready to fish. AAA anglers are advised to bring only 6 rods, 1 tackle bag and 1 cooler. Trolling, (the act of manipulating the lure solely by maneuvering the boat under any type of power) is prohibited. The intentional snagging of fish is strictly prohibited. Landing nets are permitted in WON BASS events, but may not have an overall length (handle and hoop combined) longer than eight (8) feet. There are no rod length rules in WON events.
- Encroachment — a “25” yard rule is in effect at all times during competition. No contestants boat may move within 25 yards of another contestant’s boat at any time for the purpose of fishing, unless initial party has granted permission. A boat moving from one area to another may not “tie up,” “claim,” or “protect” more than a single dock or location at one time regardless of the distance involved.
- Size Limits/Bag Limits — Qualifying fish (Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Black Bass) must be a minimum of 13” in length, measured lying flat with the mouth closed on a flat board. The daily tournament limit will be five (5) bass per boat. Tournament boats inside the check-in area must not possess more than the tournament limit of 5 fish. Anglers in violation are subject to disqualification for the day, at the sole discretion of the tournament director. Should local or state regulations specify a different method of measurement, a different minimum length or a different bag limit than the WON BASS tour standard, the more stringent standard will be utilized in the tournament. Short fish will be assessed a one-pound penalty plus the loss of the short fish.
- Sight Fishing — No camera or viewing devises may be used during tournament hours other than standard available electronics. The intentional snagging of fish is strictly prohibited.
- Culling — Replacing a live caught bass with a larger live caught bass is permitted during the fishing day. During tournament hour’s contestants may fish while possessing more than the WON BASS 5 fish tournament limit. The Title 14 rulings by the California DFG will allow WON BASS tournament anglers in California to continue to fish with 5 bass in the live well. No measuring, releasing, or culling of any bass is permitted by contestants inside the designated host marina boundaries at any time. If any anglers bring more than 5 fish into the designated host marina, your weight and your partners weight for that day will be disqualified. At no time will a contestant cull a “Dead” fish during tournament hours.
- Weigh-ln — When presenting fish to be measured, the contestant cannot touch the fish while the official takes the measurement. Once fish are presented to the Weighmaster, they immediately become the “official catch” of the contest and they become the possession of the Weighmaster to measure, weigh and record as such. Requests for a re-weigh or second opinion will be denied.
Dead Fish Penalty — It is the goal of WON BASS to release alive all tournament caught bass following the weigh-in. Contestants, therefore, are required to do everything in their power to preserve their daily catch. Deliberate, rough, or careless handling of fish while culling or handling fish is grounds for disqualification. The penalty amount of .50-pound (8 OZ) will be deducted for each bass presented “not alive” as judged by the
Weighmaster. Anglers that may have issue with tournament fish may request an early weigh-in time no sooner that 2 hours before the official scales open for the first flight. Tournament anglers must contact tournament control to coordinate such needs on a per case basis.
- Breakdowns / Emergencies — Anglers are not permitted to leave their boat or touch another boat, except for emergency or major equipment failure. In the case of a breakdown on the water, the fishing partner may accept assistance in the form of a tow from or a return ride with any other boat on the waters. While in tow, or riding, those contestants accepting assistance, are not permitted to continue fishing. However, other contestants, if rendering assistance, may continue fishing. Should one of the contestants decide to stay with the troubled craft, he may send his catch with his partner to the Weighmaster. The angler who remains with the craft may not continue to fish once he has sent his catch to the Weighmaster. Anglers with fish to be taken to weigh-in may only be transported via another tournament contestant’s boat or a method approved by the tournament authority.
- Cellular telephones — Cell phones or other communication devices, including all forms of text messaging are allowed in boats as an emergency tool only; boat-to-boat communication is prohibited except for emergency purposes. Anglers who communicate with others during tournament hours for the purposes of bettering their fishing circumstances will be disqualified by the tournament authority. This includes “Spot Blocking” or “Spot Protecting” no anglers shall work as a team to guard or block other boats from entering someones waters. If a boater leaves a spot, it is no longer his/her spot. Conversely, this is a sport of sportsmanship and integrity. We expect everyone to act accordingly.
- “Bacon Saver” — AAA entrants, may at registration declare their boat available as a “Bacon Saver” in case an extra boat is needed by a Pro in the tournament due to an equipment failure. If needed, the AAA Bacon Saver will be paired with the pro whose boat is inoperative. The Pro will pay the AAA $100 plus gas and oil expenses for the day for the use of the boat. The AAA drives the boat, at the direction of the Pro, but the Pro may operate the trolling motor and retains the right to select the waters to be fished. Should no “Bacon Saver” boat be available, both the Pro and his regularly drawn AAA partner shall be retired from the tournament. Any “official catch” weighed will be theirs to keep.
- Late weigh-in — There is no excuse for being late to the weigh-in. Any contestants (and respective partners) caught returning to the check-in point after the official tournament deadline for their flight, will be disqualified for that day.
- Citations — Any contestant cited by officers for violation of City, State or Federal fishing or boating regulations jeopardizes his daily catch and may be subject to disqualification by the tournament authority.
Standings/Ties — Final standings in any WON BASS event will be determined by the heaviest cumulative weight for the prescribed tournament period. The cumulative total will reflect the actual weight of the fish caught, less assessed penalties, if any. Pro and AAA will score the total weight of each daily boat catch. Their three-day scores will be added, placing Pros and AAAs in their own division. In the case of a tie, the prize money
and points will be awarded in the following manner: For cash awards, the designated prizes will be added together and split among those tied for a given place. (Example: A two-way tie for fifth place would split the cash awards designated for both 5th and 6th place and each would receive 5th place points). This applies to big bass option awards as well.
- Lie Detector Testing — All contestants, by virtue of entry into a WON BASS event, are subject to testing by a lie detection apparatus by authority of the Tournament Director. Should the person selected for a polygraph test decline to submit for such test, or fail the test, there will be no appeal and he will forfeit any awards due.
- Protests — Protests regarding violation of these rules must be declared immediately to the Tournament Director and then submitted in writing within 30 minutes of the end of weigh-in for that day the alleged violation occurred. The Tournament Authority will hear protests and the decisions of the Tournament Director will be final. TO AVOID PROTESTS, if you suspect a possible infraction is about to take place, ALERT THE WOULD-BE OFFENDER TO CHECK THE RULES!
- Guaranteed Acceptance Policy — Any AAA entering the tournament with a Pro contestant will receive a guaranteed entry status in the tournament. To ensure guaranteed status, the AAA entry form and appropriate entry fees must accompany those of the Pro, and be received in the WON BASS office before the tournament entry deadline. Fax orders are accepted only with a credit card payment. FAX (949) 366-0804.
- Tournament Check-In — All Pro tour contestants are required to check-in with the tournament registration staff during the hours prescribed in the Official Tournament Itinerary or as directed by the Tournament Authority. Those failing to check in on time will be assessed a 1.00-pound penalty at the start of the first day of competition. NO EXCEPTIONS! Tournament check-in times are set and announced by the Tournament Authority.
- Rules/Partner Pairing Meeting — All contestants, unless previously excused by the tournament authority, are required to attend the tournament Rules/Partner Pairing Meeting on the evening prior to the tournament or on tournament day, if in a team contest. Unauthorized absence may result in penalties as directed by the tournament authority. After the pairing of partners is completed, it is the responsibility of the Pro to ensure his AAA partner is available for the morning start. Should the AAA partner not show for the start, the Pro may be required to wait until a replacement is found, or the tournament director grants permission to the Pro angler to go out solo.
- Awards Ceremony Attendance — While generally recognized that attendance at presentation of awards ceremonies is an act of respect, it is not always possible for all to attend. Those not attending forfeit any claim to trophies or merchandise earned in competition or lottery drawings. The Tournament Authority will mail the purse share and plaque to such individuals. No other party may pick-up purse checks.
- Deposits / Refunds — A Pro or AAA deposit will hold a spot in any Pro/Am Circuit tournament or Open, up to the cut-off date prior to the contest when the balance of fees is due. All balance due’s must be paid in full one week before the official tournament starts. There is no provision for refunding tournament entry fees or deposits; however, entry fees or deposits may be transferred to another like event or to another contestant’s entry application if notification is received at WON BASS headquarters prior to the event deadline.
- Decisions — All decisions of the Tournament Authority shall be final
WON BASS TOURNAMENT ETHICS — It is important to
remember that this is a gentleman’s sport, where honesty and integrity is expected at all times.
- Passing of information during the tournament — It has long been understood that the AAA is not to pass along information to his second day partner regarding the techniques used or waters fished by his first day partner. Further, it is a violation of fair play and professional ethics for a Pro to interview or interrogate his second day AAA angler as to the techniques or waters fished by the AAA’s first day Pro partner. Any AAA’s that have local knowledge of the tournament waters, may share their spot with a Pro, but once that area is shown to that Pro, the water becomes his/hers for the remainder of the tournament.
Appearance at Weigh-in — It is the responsibility of each angler to dress and conduct themselves in a presentable and professional manner at weigh-in and award ceremonies. Tank tops and shower sandals are not considered
appropriate apparel when weighing in before the observing public. Contestants approaching the Weigh-in area who are barefooted or without a shirt will be required to return to the boat for proper dress. Remember, your potential future sponsors are watching you!
- Conduct at Meetings/Tournament — All contestants should do their best to see that those receiving awards are afforded the courtesy of their attention during the announcement and introduction of winners and trade representatives. It is the responsibility of all contestants to understand and be constantly aware that their actions and words speak for all organized bass fishing in the eyes of the observing public.
- Official Practice Guidelines – There are “NO” Official practice days prior to any WON BASS Open’s. The AZ, NV and CA Open events are off limits at 3:00 PM the afternoon prior to the official start date. Please see any specific “Off Limits” or closures specific to each event in the official event itinerary.