Fishing Tournament Registration and Tournament Bass Pass

Length limits over 15 inches on largemouth and smallmouth bass have made it difficult for tournament organizers to hold weigh-in tournaments where the best angler wins. For example, the tournament participant who catches one large fish has an advantage over the tournament participant who catches several smaller fish, which may be just under the current length limit. This leads to tournament organizers feeling limited to hold their tournaments at lakes which have shorter length limits, placing excessive pressure on those lakes.

Currently, the department does not specifically regulate tournaments as they relate to the fisheries resource. Excessive (> 10%) mortality of fish released after weigh-in has occurred during weigh-in tournaments on Kansas waters. Non-tournament anglers have expressed their concerns over improperly conducted tournaments and resulting fish mortality.
Tournaments launching from department managed facilities such as State Parks and State Fishing Lakes are required to obtain a Special Event Permit from the local property manager. The primary purpose of this permit is to minimize user conflicts and is not intended to protect the fisheries resource.

In addition, past incentives were given to acquire catch data from tournament organizers through a waiver of the Special Event Permit fee. On advice of the department’s legal counsel, the fee waiver was discontinued approximately 4 years ago. This led to a drastic decline in tournament catch data reported to the department. More incentive is needed for tournament organizers to provide this valuable data to the department.

Tournament bass anglers, who represent the most organized group of the state’s anglers, have expressed concern about being limited to only a few lakes, located primarily in the western part of the state. In order to address both the protection of the fisheries resource while still serving the tournament anglers, a Fish and Wildlife division committee was formed to address the above concerns.

The committee determined that allowing tournament participants to keep just two fish under the length limit, rather than a full creel of five, is sufficient to provide for a successful event, while minimizing delayed tournament fish mortality.

After reviewing a number of options, the committee decided to design a system that would provide incentives to conduct fish-friendly tournaments rather than requiring tournament organizers to comply with new, more rigid regulations. The committee seeks to improve tournament reporting for bass population management purposes, while at the same time providing for the concerns of the tournament anglers and supporters.

The committee recommends the development of a program allowing tournament anglers to possess two bass over 15 inches during a registered tournament competition held on waters with length limits greater than the 15 inches statewide minimum. These fish under the normal length limit must be released immediately after the tournament weigh-in. This program includes the development of a tournament registration process along with the availability of a “Tournament Bass Pass” purchased by individual participants for use only during registered events. It is the recommendation of the committee that this program be evaluated after a one-year trial period.

Program Specifics

  • Permission or permits from the facility manager (State Park Manager, Local Recreation Manager, Wildlife Area Manager) must be obtained prior to applying for registration.
  • Application for registration will be available from the Fisheries Section of the Pratt Operations Office. Registered events will be listed on the department’s website. A certificate of registration, registered event guidelines, waterproof tournament participant cards, and catch reporting forms will be provided to the organizer.
  • Registration of tournaments will be available for tournaments held September 1 through June 15 (no registered events during the heat of the summer) changes in location or date must be provided to the department six days before the event.
  • Minimum weigh-in procedures will be required of tournament organizers.
  • Catch information must be reported by December 31 of the same calendar year to retain registration eligibility / status for the next year.
  • All tournaments, regardless of targeted species are encouraged to register with the department, but the Tournament Bass Pass is only valid for tournament participants during registered bass tournament competition.
  • Tournament organizers must provide / require all contestants to possess a tournament participant ID in conjunction with the Tournament Bass Pass.
  • Tournament Bass Pass (purchased through KOALS) is valid for the calendar year in which it is purchased.
  • No fee will be required for registration of tournament events.
  • The cost of the Tournament Bass Pass will be $10.

(NOTE: To comment on this proposal, visit the KDWP blog .)