Tournament Fishing

Tournament Scheduling Requirements

Congestion at boat ramps across Kentucky is on the rise with the increased participation in competitive bass tournaments.  Concerns from both recreational and tournament anglers stresses the importance of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ online Tournament Fishing Schedule site.  This voluntary fishing tournament scheduling system was developed in 2005 to help solve congestion problems both at boat ramps and on the water.  Use of this site has fluctuated over the years, but remains low.  It is becoming critical that tournament organizers use this system to help ensure a better day on the water.  Tournament organizers can use it to tell if a ramp is over capacity on a certain day, and then shift elsewhere if necessary to avoid the frustration of a traffic jam at a ramp.  In addition, recreational anglers can also use the site to locate ramps that may be less crowed during tournament hours. 

Tournament Organizers – Please spread the word about this helpful scheduling system.


Large Tournament Registration Requirements

All tournaments with more than 100 boats are required to register with the Division of Law Enforcement at least 15 days prior to the event.  For information and application materials, contact the Division of Law Enforcement at 1-800-858-1549.


Kentucky State Parks Registration Requirements

In addition to the requirements from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are requirements for tournaments held at Kentucky State Parks.


Kentucky Department of Parks requires that:

1.  All tournaments with more than 45 boats held at a Kentucky State Park ramp or marina must schedule their tournaments using the KDFWR online tournament fish schedule site.

2.  Within 15 days of scheduling a tournament with more than 45 boats held at a Kentucky State Park ramp or marina, the tournament organizer must register with the Kentucky Department of Parks for a special user permit.

The special-use permit is required by state law for all events held at Kentucky State Parks.  Fees are applicable based on the size of the event and any special requirements.

For information and registration forms, contact the park where the tournament is to be held or the Kentucky Department of Parks in Frankfort at 800-255-7275.
The registration form is available here (PDF).


Tournament Guidelines

  • Avoid scheduling dates, lakes, or ramps where other tournaments are already scheduled. On most reservoirs, multiple ramp sites are available each day.
  • Contact the marina or agency controlling the launching ramp when your tournament schedule is confirmed. Confusion and conflict is avoidable with adequate planning and communication. Many ramps have a launch fee.
  • Avoid scheduling tournaments on major holiday weekends.
  • Respect the rights of other anglers who are using the same ramp at the time of launching and loading.
  • Minimize noise and disturbance of nearby campsites and docked boats where folks are staying overnight.
  • Make the most effective use of parking space to allow for use by non-tournament anglers. Marina operators may suggest alternate parking arrangements for tournament participants.
  • Plan the tournament so participants know where and when to launch and park. This avoids confusion and conflict at ramps and marinas.
  • Shotgun starts are extremely unsafe and should be avoided.
  • Large tournaments should stagger launch and weigh-in times to prevent "gridlock" at the ramp. Organizers should use support personnel to direct traffic during launching, parking, weigh-in, and boat retrieval.
  • Tournament anglers must possess a valid fishing license, proper boat registration, personal floatation devices, other required equipment, and have knowledge of fishing and boating regulations pertaining to the waters where they are fishing.
  • Avoid daytime tournaments during the hot summer months if possible. This will minimize fish mortality.

Proper Bass Handling

Tournament anglers and organizers participating in summer bass tournaments should be extra aware of proper bass handling needs. KDFWR recommends that all bass anglers and tournament organizers review the B.A.S.S. sponsored manual, "Keeping Bass Alive", at the link below.  KDFWR Fisheries Division endorses these procedures and recommends that all bass tournament sponsors and anglers adopt these as standard practices in their June – August tournaments when water temperatures are high.

Keeping Bass Alive

These simple procedures can significantly increase the survival of tournament caught and released bass and will keep next year’s winning sack alive.