Rules

tie*Subject to change at any time, and between stages, until Captain’s Meeting*

BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT

  1. FISHING FOR THE RIVER. The Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament is organized by Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc., a citizen-based river conservation non-profit with a mission to protect, restore and promote the Coosa River. The organization employs two full-time employees, and nearly one hundred volunteers, to patrol the river, educate the public and advocate on behalf of the river. All money raised from this tournament directly benefits this work. When you fish our trail, you’re fishing for the river. So tell your boss or spouse: it’s not another fishing trip – you’re doing charity work!
  2. STAGES. There are three stages in the 2017 Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament series. You must register for each stage individually. You must register in advance (you cannot register at the Captain’s Meeting as in previous years) and if you cannot complete the online form, you may register by phone at 205-981-6565.
  3. HOW IT WORKS. Anglers competing in canoes or kayaks fish in pre-defined areas for black bass species. All fish are caught, then photographed according to the rules and released immediately back to the river. Anglers provide their unaltered photographs to the Tournament Official(s) at the weigh-in. The judge(s) score each fish seen in photograph in inches. Prizes are awarded in a variety of categories – but most importantly, everyone has a lot of fun!
  4. WHO CAN COMPETE. Participation is open to anyone 5 years of age or older meeting all other qualifications in these rules. A completed entry form, waiver, and entry fee must be received no later than the end of check-in. The initial entry form must be received before 9am on the Friday morning before the stage – YOU MAY NOT REGISTER AT THE CAPTAIN’S MEETING THIS YEAR. Minors under the age of 18 are subject to additional rules detailed later. Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc, the Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament, and the Director reserve the right to deny entry to any person with a poor reputation in the community if they believe the participation of that individual would negatively reflect on the tournament or reduce entry from other participants. This matter is to be determined subjectively by the parties listed above using the criteria they see fit.
  5. HOW TO REGISTER. Online registration closes at 9am on the Friday morning before each stage. Registration is NOT accepted in person at the check-in on Friday night (this allows our crew to verify the eligibility and identities of all competitors). There is no limit on the size of the field, but registration may be closed early if necessary materials (tokens, waivers, etc) become unavailable. Individuals who purchase the season pass do not have to complete registration for each stage.
  6. CHECK-IN. At check-in, each competitor will show their photo ID, valid fishing license, turn in their waivers, and pay any outstanding fees. Check-in is Friday night before competition at the location specified for that stage. Times for check-in vary by stage – check website for details at coosakayakfishing.com. Only cash and credit cards will be accepted on the day of the Captain’s Meeting. All entry fees are non-transferrable and non-refundable. Competitors may skip check-in and the Captain’s Meeting if they e-mail or mail a physical copy of their photo ID, valid fishing license, and waivers to the Tournament Official no later than Thursday at midnight with a $10 fee which will be donated to Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. You may only donate to skip the Captain’s Meeting if you have previously attended a Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament Captain’s Meeting in person in the 2014 or 2015 series.
  7. CAPTAIN’S MEETING. After check-in, a Captain’s Meeting is held in which the Tournament Director recaps the latest work of Coosa Riverkeeper, introduces the area we will be fishing in and recaps the most important rules. When the meeting is concluded, the Director will pass out anglers tokens to be used in scoring photos. Before and after the Captain’s Meeting is time for making new friends and enjoying the food and beverage at the great hosting venues on the trail. For those who elected to skip the check-in and Captain’s Meeting, instructions will be e-mailed to each participant late Friday night with their token and stage specific details not included in these rules. You will need either a printer or a piece of paper and pen to write your unique token ID down and display it in your images. Note that you will want to make this waterproof so at minimum bring a Zip-lock bag.
  8. WHERE TO STAY. Wherever you’d like! We try to help you by posting possible campsites and hotels on the tournament map for each stage.

FISHING

  1. TOURNAMENT HOURS. Tournament hours vary by stage but generally begin at first safe light and end mid-afternoon. Anglers may not launch their boat or begin to fish until the designated start time (note: this is different from some other tournaments where you are allowed to begin paddling before first safe light). There is plenty of time to fish and you certainly don’t need to stay out all day to be successful – come in for lunch and stay hydrated!
  2. TOURNAMENT BOUNDARIES. Tournament boundaries vary by stage. All stages are restricted to a specific lake’s watershed. This means competitors may fish on the lake or on any of the creeks that drain to that lake so long as those waters are accessible to the public at all times according to state and federal regulations. A Google Map with outlined boundaries is available online before each stage. The map shows outer boundaries and there are ineligible waters within those boundaries. Ineligible waters include any private waters or stocked waters (including small public lakes). Anglers may access the streams within the boundaries via any publicly accessible boat ramp or park or any public right of way (e.g., boat ramp, public park, bridge crossings). If the competitor owns property within the boundaries (e.g. lakehouse or land along a creek) they may use it to access tournament waters, however, they may not fish in stocked ponds or lakes on their property. Competitors may move from one fishing location to another throughout the day by transporting their boat via car, but may not be transported by motor boat (known as “mothershipping”). Fishing outside of tournament boundaries is grounds for immediate disqualification and future bans. Any potential winning photos will have their geotag metadata checked to verify the fish were caught in tournament boundaries.
  3. PERMITTED FISHING METHODS. All fish must be caught, photographed, and released alive in a conventional sporting manner. A cast must be fully retrieved before an angler may pick up another rod. A foul hooked fish will not be scored, but should still be released in the safest way possible for the fish. A foul hooked fish is defined as a fish that does not have at least one hook in its mouth. Anglers may not catch fish or weigh in fish that have been caged or confined in an area prior to the tournament. Under no circumstances may the competitor restrain the fish for photographing or any other purpose; this means that using a stringer or other clasp to secure the fish is not allowed. Fish must be released immediately back to the water after photographing. Any fish that is caught must be scored and/or released back to the water before another cast can be made. If any competition is found to possess more than one fish in their boat at any time, the competitor will be disqualified. All fish must be caught either from the boat or while wade/bank fishing (provided the kayak/canoe is used to arrive at the location for wade fishing and the kayak/canoe remains in sight of the angler while fishing and the photograph of the fish on the ruler shows the kayak/canoe in the image). During the hours of competition, contestants may not obtain or receive assistance, including but not limited to the following: a non-competitor’s boat, the placing of markers by a non-competitor, being towed by or riding on motorized vessels on the tournament waters, or receiving electronic, voice or data communication from a non-competitor.
  4. TACKLE AND EQUIPMENT. Only artificial lures may be used during competition. Commercially sold pork trailers or scents may be added and used. Only ONE casting, spin casting, spinning rod and reel or fly rod may be used at any one time per angler. Trolling as a method of fishing is prohibited.
  5. COMMUNICATIONS. The use of mobile communication devices such as cellular telephones, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, pagers or any electronic device to communicate fishing information with anyone, including family members, during tournament hours is strictly prohibited. Communication among anglers about fishing conditions is allowed on the water only by non-electronic methods. The only exception is emergency calls. After an emergency call is made (to 911), the angler making such a call should immediately contact the Director to relay emergency information. The Director will provide important emergency contact phone numbers during the Captain’s Meeting and all participants should retain these numbers in the event of an emergency. Participants may also call the Director at any time during tournament hours to ask questions, provide information or request assistance.
  6. NO MOTORS. The use of a boat or motorized water vehicle to transport your boat on the water is prohibited. All craft must be self-propelled; no motors of any power are allowed (electric or combustion). In no way should a motor in any way be involved in your day of fishing except in your car! Exceptions will be granted for interested participants with special physical needs and such requests should be sent to the Director at least one week in advance of each stage.
  7. BOATS. All boats must be powered by the competitor, either by paddles, rows, or peddle-drive. No type of motor may be affixed to or be onboard any competition boat at any time during the tournament. The boat must meet state and federal regulations for the body of water it is fishing on, including required safety equipment. The boat must be what is generally described as a kayak or canoe. Other small, human-powered craft may be allowed but should be shown to the Director before competition for approval.
  8. SPORTSMANSHIP. Competitors in the Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Any infraction of these fundamental sporting principles may be deemed cause for disqualification. Maximum courtesy must be practiced at all times, especially with regard to boating and angling in the vicinity of non-competitors who may be on tournament waters. Any act of a competitor, which reflects unfavorably upon Coosa Riverkeeper’s effort to promote fisheries conservation, clean waters, and courtesy, shall be reason for disqualification. Evidence of chemical substance addiction or abuse, conviction of a felony or other crimes involving moral turpitude or other conduct reflecting unfavorably upon Coosa Riverkeeper’s efforts to promote safety, sportsmanship and compliance with tournament rules shall be grounds for rejecting any application for participation and for disqualification. Any act deemed by the Director that gives an angler an unfair advantage not specifically covered under this set of rules shall be grounds for disqualification. Any violation by an angler deemed intentional or preconceived by the Director to gain an unfair advantage, would be grounds for permanent disqualification. Disqualification from other fishing tournaments may be grounds for disqualification or ineligibility for the Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament. Any competitor who has previously been banned, disqualified or ejected from any fishing event must notify the Director of said incident in advance of check-in.
  9. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS. The consuming or transporting of any alcoholic beverages or drugs (other than prescription or over the counter drugs) during official fishing hours on any tournament angler’s boat is prohibited, and angler or anglers will be disqualified from the tournament and possibly face future bans from competition as determined by the Director.
  10. TANDEM. Two contestants are allowed to compete in the same boat if notice is given to the Director at or before check-in. The boat must be the type of boat that is generally recognized as a canoe or kayak and be intended for use by two or more individuals, with final discretion left solely to the Director. In this situation, both people in said boat must be registered competitors (no non-competitors are allowed in the boat). Competitors competing in tandem must score their fish individually. However, they may share a single measuring device (ruler) and digital camera. Each competitor must use their own unique token when photographing fish caught by said competitor. Two people competing in the same boat may not use their unique token when photographing another person’s fish. If any competitors competing in tandem are found to be violating these rules, they will all be immediately disqualified and banned from future events.
  11. SAFETY. Safe boating will be observed at all times. Participants must wear a PFD at all times while competing in the event and be in possession of a sounding device (whistle, horn, etc.). If someone submits a photograph of an angler on the water or fishing from land without wearing a PFD the offending angler will be disqualified. Tournament may be shortened or canceled due to unsafe weather or water conditions. Rain and wind, unless severe, will not shorten or cancel an event, but thunderstorms and other severe weather threats (including extreme cold air or water temperatures) may shorten, delay, or cancel an event. The decision to shorten, to delay, or to cancel will be left totally to the discretion of the Director. A 5-hour period shall constitute a day of fishing. In the event of weather preventing fishing on Saturday, the Tournament will take place on Sunday. If the event cannot take place Saturday or Sunday due to severe weather, the tournament will take place the following Saturday without refunds. For a two-day event, a cumulative period of 10 hours of fishing, in one day or two days, shall constitute a full tournament. For stages scheduled to occur in the Jordan Dam tailwaters, in the event river flow exceeds 15,000 cfs (according to Alabama Power Company’s website and/or hotline) the day’s fishing will be moved to Lake Jordan.
  12. ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS FOR MINORS. Individuals that are 16 or 17 years of age are eligible to participate in their own boat with the signature of a parent or legal guardian on the release form. Individuals between the ages of 10 and 15 years old may compete in their own boat (or in tandem) if and only if their parent or legal guardian also competes and stays in close proximity and eye sight of the minor at all times and the parent or legal guardian also signs the release form. Individuals between the ages of 5 and 9 years old may only compete in tandem with an adult and must have their parent or legal guardian’s signature on the release form. These restrictions on minors are designed to ensure their safety on the water and are a minimum, but parents and guardians should make their own determination about their child’s ability to paddle and fish on the tournament waters, which can be very challenging.
  13. ELECTRONICS. Electronics are permitted. This includes fish finders, depth finders, weather stations, etc. However, please see restrictions on communication.

SCORING

  1. ELIGIBLE SPECIES. Only fish species that are members of the black bass family are eligible. For the Coosa River drainage system this includes largemouth bass, spotted bass and redeye bass. Other black bass which are not native to the Coosa drainage and caught during the tournament will not be scored. This includes the non-native smallmouth bass. Hybrids of eligible species are allowed.
  2. WEIGH-IN. All competitors must check in their cameras and tokens by the “weigh-in” time to be announced at the Captain’s Meeting to be eligible for prizes. Weigh-in is open for one hour. At weigh-in you must submit your camera for review and fill out a scoring sheet to be eligible for prizes. You may also e-mail or text scoring photo from your smartphone to the Officials at any time throughout the day so that they have a copy of it; if you submit your photos in this way you must still attend weigh-in and your weigh-in time will be the time that you arrive to the judge’s table.
  3. DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY. Participants may only use digital cameras or camera phones for recording scoring fish. Participants must bring their own cameras; cameras are not provided. Cameras must have the correct date and time set. To be eligible for cash prizes, all photos must  have a geotag in the metadata showing the precise location where the fish was caught (all modern smartphones have this capability and our crew can assist you in enabling it, your geotag metadata and fishing location will not be shared with anyone and is used solely to verify that the fish was photographed inside the tournament boundaries.). If the competitor’s camera/phone allows, the competitor may simply show the “photo map” or geotag information to the judge on the camera/phone itself instead of uploading the image to the tournament computer. Participants should be aware that any photographs downloaded to the tournament computer besides scoring photographs will be seen by the judge and possibly by other competitors and non-competitors and can be used by Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc or their sponsors for promotional purposes. Images may not be digitally altered or enhanced in any way. Anglers should shoot images at maximum resolution possible. Entrants must bring the memory card from their camera to weigh-in and may not in any way transfer images from the camera or edit their contents or file names or metadata prior to weigh-in. The tournament scorekeeper will download memory cards onto the official computer. The tournament scorekeeper will be able to read SD memory cards; anglers should bring a USB cable for their camera to ensure that their photos may be downloaded. It is the responsibility of the angler to make sure the tournament scorekeeper can view the angler’s images and if the tournament scorekeeper cannot view the angler’s images on the official tournament computer, then the angler will not be eligible for any prizes. Use of modern smartphones is encouraged, but  at the competitor’s own risk. Internet access and cell service are not available at all venues and if the judges cannot download a copy of the images then the fish may not be eligible for prizes. In some cases, the judge may need to view the image of the fish on the competitor’s camera/phone.
  4. SCORING. The event uses catch-photograph-release scoring determined by the length of each fish. Fish must be photographed in or on the boat, on a the “Hawg Trough” white or yellow bump board ruler, clearly showing the full length of the fish with the unique token and boat visible. The fish must have its left side facing up, and the majority of the fish must be visible to allow the judges to see unique markings on the fish. More than one photo of a fish may be taken, and is indeed encouraged, to aid the judges in determining the precise length of each fish, to the closest 1/4″ (rounding down; must touch or extend past line). Bass of similar sizes must have unique markings on them to distinguish them or only one will be counted. To that end, it is best to not place one’s hand over the fish when photographing it as this covers many of its distinct markings. For a bass to qualify for the fly fishing prize category, the first image of the bass in the angler’s camera roll of that fish must clearly show a fly hooked in the mouth of the bass. The length of each bass is determined by the edge of the tail of the bass. The tail may be spread wide or pinched (but not held) together. In the event of a tie, the longest bass of each tying competitor will be the first tie-breaker. If these bass are the same length (or for the Best bass category), the competitor who weighed in earliest will be declared the winner. A coin toss will be the final tie-breaker. The judge will review the photos to verify results and determine winners. The judges will randomly call up to three competitors to view the winning fishes and ask them to verify that the fish meet the standards set forth in the rules. The Director is responsible for the final call in all matters and may disqualify fish or competitors for reasons not expressly laid out in the rules if the Director determines it is in the best interest of fairness, or the other competitors, or Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc and its sponsors and employees. For scoring photos that do not fully meet scoring criteria, the judge will make subjective deductions to, in the judge’s own opinion, estimate the length of the fish in question. In addition to these subjective deductions, the following objective deductions will be made to scoring entries not meeting scoring criteria as decided by the judge and are not subject to protest: No unique token: image disqualified. Boat not visible: image disqualified. Full fish not visible: image disqualified. Fish laying on wrong side: image disqualified. No geotag in the image metadata/other hard proof of fishing “in bounds”: competitor ineligible for cash prizes. Competitor will still be “placed” in the same position but, if they placed in a cash payout position (1st through 4th), they will only receive $50 which is intended to offset the cost of the competitor’s entry fee. Cash that is “forfeited” due to lack of geotag will not be awarded to other competitors.
  5. AWARDS. The main award category will be a “virtual stringer” of black bass, using aggregate scoring. The best eligible fish will be scored and their totals aggregated to determine the overall score for the angler in that category. Stringer size is three fish. Competitors need not catch the limit to be eligible for prizes. However, a three-fish score will be given a higher ranking than a two-fish score, even if the two-fish combined length is longer than the three-fish combined length (the same applies for a two fish score over a one fish score). Other prizes are given for other categories including Best Bass. Regardless of field size, $500 will be awarded to first place overall, $300 awarded to second place overall, $150 awarded to third place overall, and $50 awarded to fourth place overall. All other prizes are non-cash prize items donated by sponsors. See website for details.
  6. WEIGH-IN HOURS AND LATE ENTRY PENALTIES. The weigh-in time recorded by the judges is the time at which the angler arrives at the judges table to weigh-in and is determined from the time on the official tournament computer. For all entries, late or timely, the anglers time of arrival at the judges table is recorded without seconds. For example, an angler arriving to the table at 4:54:59 will be recorded as 4:54 while an angler arriving at 4:55:00 will be recorded as 4:55. All arrival time disputes will be decided by the Tournament Official and are not subject to Protest.The angler must arrive at the judges table by the end of official weigh-in hours. Generally, the judges table opens about one hour before weigh-in hours end. The end of weigh-in hours announced at the Captain’s Meeting is reported as a top-of-the-hour time (e.g. “5:00″), however this is the time that the weigh-in hours have closed and past. In other words, for a stated weigh-in close time of 5:00, the latest time an angler can arrive at the judges table without penalty is 4:59:59 and any angler arriving at 5:00:00 or later will be penalized. Penalties are assessed to the angler’s aggregate score and can take the angler’s aggregate score as low as zero, but not into negative numbers. This penalized score is the angler’s official score and is the score that will be used in Angler of the Year calculations.The following standards for late penalties will be used: Less than 5 minutes late: 10″ penalty on aggregate score and disqualification from any cash or Best Bass awards. 5-14 minutes late: 20″ penalty on aggregate score and disqualification from all award categories. 15-30 minutes late: 30″ on aggregate score and disqualification from all award categories.
    Over 30 minutes late: No entries accepted. No exceptions.We call you, then we call 911. Call us if you know you will be this late!
  7. BIG WILLS OUTFITTERS ANGLER OF THE YEAR. A high value kayak will be awarded to the angler who has the highest aggregate score across all three stages. The Angler of the Year will be crowned at the Neely Henry Open.

OTHER RULES

  1. PROTEST. All protests must be submitted in writing along with a $100 cash deposit, before the Awards Ceremony to the Director. If the Director, who has sole discretion in deciding the validity of protests, upholds the protest, the cash deposit shall be returned to the contestant submitting the protest. Protests may be made with regards to the fairness of the rules or enforcement of the rules. Scoring of photos is subject to the discretion of the judge and not subject to protest. Allegations of cheating by other competitors are not protests (no $100 deposit required) but should be reported to the Director. If a protest is denied, the $100 deposit will be given to Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. to further its mission to protect, restore and promote the Coosa River.
  2. CHEATING & BANS. Cheating is a disgrace to the charitable, fun-spirited purposes for which the Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament is organized. Any competitor found cheating will face punishment as determined by the Director and likely to include a lifetime ban from Coosa Riverkeeper events. The names of cheaters will also be displayed prominently in public (including but not limited to the Internet) and distributed to all motor and non-motor tournament Directors across the world. A competitor who is disqualified or banned from the tournament may appeal the Director’s decision to the Coosa Riverkeeper Board of Directors who may vote in a regular meeting to uphold or overturn the decision of the Director. Any angler who sees or suspects another angler of cheating should attempt to photograph said actions with their camera. Whether or not the angler is able to photograph the alleged cheating, it should be reported to the judge at weigh-in (or via phone during tournament hours) so that justice may be served. Alleging cheating is not a protest and does not require a $100 deposit. Any and all competitors may be subjected to polygraph tests and the result of said test may result in the forfeiture of any winnings and future bans from competition.
  3. RELEASE OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE. A waiver, release of liability, and covenant not to sue are required to compete. It is required that all contestants take responsibility for themselves while participating in event activities. Competitors must accept that canoe and kayak fishing is inherently dangerous. Safety and individual responsibility must be exercised at all times. A waiver must be submitted before competing. The Coosa Riverkeeper waiver is written to apply to the entire year and only one copy must be submitted per year per angler.
  4. INSURANCE. Event insurance is through American Canoe Association. All registered competitors must either be members of ACA and have their ACA member number, or complete a non-member entry form and waiver. This is a separate waiver from the Coosa Riverkeeper waiver and must be completed at each stage. Insurance fees are paid by Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. and the sponsors on your behalf if you are not an ACA member.
  5. PHOTO RELEASE. Scoring photos and other photos downloaded to the tournament computer remain the ownership of Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. to be used at their discretion in perpetuity. Contestants grant Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. and the sponsors the unconditional right to use their name, voice, photographic likeness and biographical information in connection with Coosa Riverkeeper and the Coosa Canoe & Kayak Fishing Tournament and production, promotion, and/or articles and press releases, and shall not be entitled to receive any royalties or other compensation in connection with such use.This includes photographs taken by Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc. and the sponsors. Smile!
  6. RULE CHANGES. These written rules become finalized at the end of the Captain’s meeting. These rules supersede any verbally communicated rules given at the Captain’s meeting if a conflict exists. Rules interpretation is exclusively left to the Director. Rules can and will be changed between stages and should be reviewed by competitors before each stage. The decisions of the Director are final in all matters and are not subject to appeal except in the case of a disqualification or ban which may be appealed as stated above..
  7. CONTACTING THE DIRECTOR. You may reach the Director at the Coosa Riverkeeper office. By phone: 205-981-6565. By e-mail: fishing@coosariver.org. By mail: 102-B Croft Street. Birmingham, AL 35242.