Rules Governing Bass Fishing

Rules Governing Bass Fishing


A) Alignment of Teams / Student Eligibility for Competition (beginning with the 2019 -20 season)
The 2019 – 20 bass fishing season is a pilot year for beginning the sport.  Schools will compete under one classification. The Mississippi High School Activities Association shall conduct postseason competition in bass fishing beginning with the 2020 – 21 sports season, provided there is a sufficient number of participating schools and such is approved by the MHSAA executive committee.  Student participants must meet eligibility requirements set forth by the MHSAA.


  1. A) Coaches / Captains / Pilots
    1. Coaches: Each school shall designate at least one (1) individual to be the coach of the Bass Fishing program.
    a) The designated coach(s) must meet all MHSAA requirements, i.e. certified school personnel or paraprofessional.
    b) The coach may serve as the captain of one of the boats and is held to the same restrictions as the captain.

    2) Captains: Each boat entered in the (region or state) competition must have an adult captain on the boat at all times.
    a) The captain shall be restricted in their activity, and have general supervision over the students in that specific boat.
    b) The captain of the boat is allowed to talk to the participants and may make suggestions but may not fish in any respect, including tying lures and handling fish or gear. Please note exception in Subsection E for captain’s ability to help net fish if only one student is in the boat.
    c) The captain/coach or team participants can operate the electric (trolling) motor.

3) Pilot: Each boat may have a fourth occupant, normally the owner, who may choose to pilot the boat. The pilot is held to the same restrictions as the captain.

  1. B) Boat Requirements
    1) Any volunteer found acceptable by school administration may provide a boat.
    2) Each school shall ensure that for each boat provided, an adult captain is provided.
    3) The boat owner shall provide proof of liability insurance to the school administration or verification that the owner’s homeowners insurance has provisions for boat coverage.
    4) A school unable to secure a boat but with competitors desiring to compete in the region or state competition should contact FLW for assistance, which is available from numerous clubs across the state.
    5) No student will be allowed to operate the outboard motor on the boat.
    6) Either a student or the captain (or pilot if it is the boat owner) may operate the trolling motor.
    7) The captain (or pilot if it is the boat owner) will be responsible for operating the outboard motor.
    8) All boats must be propeller-driven and a minimum of 16 feet
    9) Each boat must have all required U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment.
    10) Boats must contain a properly aerated live-well space to maintain alive a limit catch of bass.
  2. C) Safety Provisions
    1) All participants must wear a coast guard approved life jacket the entire time they are on the water. If they do not, disqualification will occur. This includes the captain (and pilot if applicable) of the boat.
    2) Protective eye wear is mandated for all participants in the boat, including the captain (and pilot if applicable)
    3) All boats must go through a safety check prior to the start of the competition
    4) The captain (and pilot if applicable) must observe all posted state and local speed restrictions. If no such restrictions are in place, the speed limit shall be 45 miles per hour.
    5) In the event of equipment failure or emergency, the competition manager must be notified as soon as it is safe to do so. There are then three permitted methods of returning to the check-in: (1) by both contestants remaining in their boat and being towed by water, (2) with permission from the competition manager, by one contestant entering the boat of another team or (3) both contestants entering a rescue boat so designated by the completion manager. Under these three conditions the team’s catch may be counted without penalty (except for late penalties or other penalties pertaining to other tournament rules). Teams that elect to return to the check-in by any other means than cited above will forfeit their day’s catch to that point in time of the tournament day. Any team returning to the check-in point will be eligible to restart and resume competition under the supervision of the competition manager for his designated official.
  3. D) Uniforms
    1) School uniforms must be worn during regular and post-season competition.
    2) School uniforms can have the school name and/or logo and the student’s name on them.
    3) Sponsorships may be secured, but may not be from companies that manufacture alcohol or tobacco products.
    4) Any sponsorship the school has secured may be displayed on the uniforms or on the captain/pilot of the boat.
    5) Sponsorship logos may be displayed on the boats that are in the competition.
    6) The uniform of the student anglers shall be distinct from that of the coach or boat captain to limit concerns as to who is fishing.


A) Dates for Competition will be determined upon approval of a state championship event (beginning the 2020-21 school year). The Executive Director shall determine the dates of the region and state competitions. All competitions shall be held within the dates indicated on the MHSAA calendar.

  1. B) Sites for Competition
    1) The MHSAA shall make the determination of the region competition sites.
    2) Schools interested in hosting may submit a request to host. The prospective host may be asked to supply information relating to boat launch and parking facilities and such other information.
    3) The MHSAA office may use a requested site selection plan as a guide, but is not bound by this plan in determining the sites.
    4) Only schools which are members of the Association and have a suitable facility for hosting the competition shall be allowed to apply.
    5) All competition lakes/bodies of water shall be properly marked for and evacuation plan in case of bad weather.
    6) The school host working with representatives of the Association’s designated management partner(s) shall acquire all permits needed to conduct such competition.
    7) MHSAA shall determine the site of eventual state finals. Site(s) shall be determined by necessary hotel facilities, playing facilities, and community/area support
  2. C) Competition Rules
    1) All Competitions shall be held using the competition rules as promulgated by FLW unless modified by the MHSAA.
    2) Additional rules otherwise developed by the MHSAA may be implemented in competitions played in Mississippi and will be distributed to the membership when relevant.
    3) Detailed and binding instructions, both for managers and participating teams, shall be published on the MHSAA website.
    4) The MHSAA and its managers will contract with FLW personnel to assist with the Region and State Competitions.

    D) Competition Provisions and Procedures
    1) Each boat team shall consist of up to four student participants per boat.
    2) A school may enter up to six boats where only two of the four students entered for that boat may fish at any one time on that boat.
    3) During competition, any boat may return to the dock and exchange competitors, each of whom must have been on the four-person entry.
    4) All regions will be scheduled for at least 5 hours of fishing and cannot exceed 8 hours on the water. This might have to be adjusted due to weather.
    5) A region competition is considered to be complete if half of the scheduled competition time has been fished.
    6) If the competition is postponed until the rain date, no fish will count towards the rain date weigh-ins.
    7) If weather shuts down the Region once it has been rescheduled for rain date, the winner will be determined by the fish caught during the time allotted for that region on the second day.
    8) State final will consist of two days of fishing with a maximum of eight (8) hours of fishing each day, when possible.
    9) If weather shuts down either day of the State final once it has started, that day’s weight will be determined by the fish caught during the time allotted for that day.
    10) In the state final, if one of the days is completed and the other day is not able to be fished because of weather, the winner(s) will be determined by the one day weigh-in.
    11) All participants in the first flight must be back in for weigh-in by 3:00 p.m. at the region and the state final. This would vary only if a weather alert has been issued which might shorten that day’s competition. It is the participant(s) in the first flight’s responsibility to make sure the boat is back to the dock by 3:00 p.m.
    12) All participants in the second flight must be back in for weigh- in by 3:15 p.m. at the region and the state final. This would vary only if a weather alert has been issued which might shorten that day’s competition. It is the participant(s) in the second flight’s responsibility to make sure the boat is back to the dock by 3:15 p.m.
    13) There will be a one-pound deduction for every minute a participant is late getting back for weigh-ins up to 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, no weight will be allowed for that day. It is the participant’s responsibility to notify the competition manager in advance of the 3:00 p.m. (or 3:15 in second flight) closing time of any problems that may have occurred
    14) Participants must only use the gear that is in the boat when the boat leaves the dock at the start of the day. They may use their own gear or the gear of the captain in the boat. If an alternate is used in the competition, the gear of the alternate must be secured in an area and can be added once the alternate is picked up.
    15) Team participants of the boat may net the fish for that boat. The captain of the boat may net fish for the participants with one or two contestants if asked to do so.
    16) Participants must stay completely in the boat unless they are using an authorized rest room facility, are back at the dock switching participants, or due to some other emergency or malfunction. If an emergency or malfunction occurs, the boat must contact the local manager or his/her designee prior to leaving the boat.
    17) No live bait or trolling is allowed in the region or state final.

  3. E) Weights and Weigh-ins
    1) The total weight for each of the five (5) fish limited to that boat will count for the team total of that competition.
    2) Ties will be broken, if the poundage is equal, in the following manner: First criteria will be the largest fish; second criteria will be the number of fish.
    3) Individual weight will also be recorded for the top fish designated by each boat.
    4) The minimum length limit for bass is 12 inches unless the state or lake limit is more than 12 inches, in which case, the state or lake limit prevails. Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the minimum length will be penalized at the rate of one pound for each inch short for each bass presented.
    5) There will be a five fish limit per boat. No more than five (5) fish in the live well at any time.
    6) Fish may be culled if a participant(s) has five (5) fish in the live well.
    7) All fish that are put in the live-well must be kept alive. Dead fish will have a 1⁄2 – pound deduction and cannot count as the large fish for that boat. Dead fish may not be culled.
    8) Any transfer of fish from one live well to a different live well in another boat due to malfunction must be made in the presence of the local manager or his/her designee.
    9) All fish will be released immediately after weigh-in.

    F) Off-limits, Practice and Competition
    1) Once competition is under way, contestants may not obtain fishing patterns or locations from non-competitors, follow a non-competitor’s boat or participate in the practice of “hole sitting”, a practice wherein a non-competitor sits on a fishing spot, holding it for a contestant.
    2) Non-competitors may not place markers for contestants. All of these acts are prohibited and may result in the immediate disqualification of the boat.
    3) There is no practice period or off-limits period. Competitors may be on competition waters anytime until the start of the pre-competition meeting.
    4) Contestants, coaches nor captains (including pilots if applicable) may not enter competition waters to locate bass or potential fishing waters or sightsee after the start of the pre-competition meeting except during competition hours.
    5) Testing equipment on competition waters after the start of the pre-competition meeting is permitted only with prior approval from the competition director.
  4. G) Insurance Coverage
    1) Membership in the Student Angler Federation (SAF) provides insurance coverage for all team activities throughout the membership term. Website:
    2) The schools and students will be responsible for any equipment related insurance and other necessary insurance just as in any other sport or sport activity the MHSAA conducts.
    3) All member schools are reminded to take precautionary steps to ensure that all equipment and product safety risk measures are taken including insurance coverage.

    H) Medical and Other
    1) Schools should have emergency action plans in place before participating in a contest.
    2) Tobacco Products: No coach, captain, pilot or contestant or any other person connected with a team shall be permitted to use tobacco products in the competition area, either during practice or while a contest is in progress. |
    3) Use of Inhalers: A student with asthma may possess and use his/her medication during an MHSAA competition (including while in the boat), while under the supervision of school personnel, provided the school meets the outlined procedures of self-administration.
    4) Alcohol: The possession, distribution, sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages are prohibited at the site and on any affiliated property of any MHSAA state series contest. State series hosts are required to make all state series contest sites and any affiliated property, including parking lots, fan accommodation areas, and other school or event venue property, alcohol free zones on the date or dates of any MHSAA event being held at the site. Violation of this policy by an event host will subject the host to a penalty for violation. Such penalty may include but not necessarily be limited to prohibition against subsequent event hosting assignments.

MHSAA will continue to advance the sport activity of bass fishing.  Additional rules and guidelines will be forthcoming and posted at fishing.


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