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.

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.

Tournament anglers and organizers participating in summer bass tournaments should be extra aware of proper bass handling needs. The following recommended guidelines are taken from the B.A.S.S. sponsored manual, "Keeping Bass Alive". 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.

  • Stress caused by handling and livewell confinement is the major factor that increases mortality of tournament caught bass. Hot water and low oxygen increase stress.
  • Stress can be reduced by continual operation of the aerator in a closed livewell. Do not pump hot lake water into the livewell.
  • Keeping livewell temperature 5-10 degrees F cooler than the lake water greatly reduces stress. Cool water holds more oxygen
  • Two frozen ½ gallon jugs of water or an 8 pound ice block will cool a 30 gallon livewell by 10 degrees F for about 3 hours. To avoid temperature shock, do not cool by more than 10 degrees. Livewell temperature should never be allowed to rise above 85 degrees F. Extra jugs or blocks can be carried in a cooler or insulated boat compartment.
  • Livewell temperatures should be checked every hour with ice added or removed as needed.
  • Non-iodized salt (available at farm supply stores) helps reduce stress. Add 1/3 cup per 5 gallons of livewell water. Salt can be pre-measured for the size of your livewell and put in small plastic bags.
  • If you have more than 10 pounds of bass in your livewell you should exchange ½ the water at the half way through your tournament day. Remember to adjust the temperature and add ½ a dose of salt when you add fresh water.

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

Hard copies of Keeping Bass Alive are available for $3.00 each, please contact the Conservation Department at (334) 272-9530 ext. 404 or