Entering a fishing tournament for the first time can be a daunting task. Finding tournaments can be as easy as searching for tournaments with an internet search, or finding them on social media. How to enter one, though, can be more difficult.
The first thing a prospective angler should expect is certain rules governing insurance of the boat to be used in the tournament. In most cases, the insurance needed will be above and beyond the basic insurance policy. Higher liability insurance limits for tournament anglers are very common. Those looking to fish tournaments should check the rules, or check with the tournament director or organization putting on the tournament.
There will also likely be safety equipment needed and certain rules governing that equipment. For instance, most tournament boats must be equipped with a “kill switch,” and the operator must be tethered to that switch while the combustion motor is running. A kill switch will kill the engine when the tether is removed. If the driver falls out of the boat, for instance, the kill switch will shut off the motor, stopping the boat. This can be life-saving, as anglers have been run over by their own boat when not using a kill switch.
Life jackets in good condition must also be worn during most tournaments. There are different rules as to when they must be worn, so interested anglers should know those rules as well. In certain waters, flares are needed and boats of certain sizes need working fire extinguishers.
These are just a few of the safety rules. Knowing these rules can keep an angler or team from being disqualified from the tournament. Anglers should know all of these rules upon entering a tournament.
The next step is to send in the entry fee. Depending on the tournament, this fee could vary greatly. There will be a deadline by which the entry fee must be paid, or a deposit must be paid. Some tournaments allow anglers to pay at the launch ramp the morning of the tournament, but not all of them. It is important to know those deadlines.
Any rules and regulations of the place in which the tournament is taking place must be followed as well. Getting a ticket for not following regulations will get an angler or team disqualified from the tournament. Anglers should know boating rules, bag limits for the targeted species of fish and length limits for the targeted species of fish. There may be “no wake” zones on the body of water where the tournament is held. “No wake,” is defined as the slowest speed at which the boat can be controlled. There may also be rules regarding how far away from a shoreline a boat needs to be while up on plane or how far away one must be from an anchored boat. Anglers need to know the rules in the location where they are fishing.
Not only do anglers need to know the law, but they need to know the tournament rules. One of the rules that may go into effect, even before the tournament, is “off limits” days. It may be against the rules for an angler or team to be on a body of water 24 hours prior to the tournament, 3 days, or 7 days prior, also some tournaments may have rules such as fishing lures allowed, or bait fishing only. Anglers need to know those rules. There may also be rules within the tournament by which anglers may otherwise not be bound.
New tournament anglers should read all of the tournament rules as well as the local regulations. If there is any question at all, anglers should be sure to ask. Tournament directors want to run safe and fun events. They want everyone to have a good time, and will be more than willing to answer questions from new anglers.