MLF Rules

1.       The competition will be comprised of three rounds, covering six total days.


a.       Round 1 (ELIMINATION ROUND) will comprise three days (Days 1, 2 and 3);

b.      Round 2 (SUDDEN-DEATH ROUND) will cover two days (Days 4 and 5);

c.       Round 3 (CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND) will be a one-day event, held on the final day.




a.       During the Elimination Round, Anglers will be divided into three groups of eight Anglers each: Groups 1, 2 and 3.

b.      Group 1 will compete on Day 1, Group 2 on Day 2, and Group 3 on Day 3.

c.       MLF will determine which Anglers compete in each round.

d.      On Day 1, the four Anglers from Group 1 with the highest weight total of “Scorable Bass” during a full day of competition will advance to the Sudden-Death Round.

e.      The same criteria will be used during Round 1 with Groups 2 and 3 – four Anglers with the highest weight totals each day will advance to the Sudden-Death Round.

f.        The total number of Anglers advancing to the Sudden-Death Round will be 12.




a.       During the Sudden-Death Round, the 12 Anglers that advanced (from Round 1) will be divided into two groups of six Anglers each: Groups 1 and 2.

b.      Group 1 will compete on Day 4, Group 2 on Day 5.

c.       MLF will utilize a “seeding system” based on Elimination Round results to establish the Anglers’ placement in groups 1 or 2. MLF will seed the groups based on the success (or lack of success) of Anglers during the previous round.

d.      MLF will post a qualifying weight for the two days of Sudden-Death Round competition based on the fishery and existing conditions.

e.      The qualifying weight will be determined by the League Commissioner after he consults with an Angler representative and/or other consultants of his choosing.

f.        The qualifying weights will be set for each of the two days and will be announced no more than 12 hours prior to the start of that round’s competition.

g.       The first three Anglers from Sudden-Death Round / Group 1 and the first three Anglers from Sudden-Death Round / Group 2 to reach the qualifying weights set for their days of competition will advance to the Championship Round.

h.      If either one or three Anglers fail to reach the qualifying weight, the Angler(s) that advance will be determined by the total weight of Scorable Bass caught during a full day of competition.

i.         The total number of Anglers advancing to the Championship Round will be 6.




a.       The field for the Championship Round will be made up of three Anglers advancing from each: Sudden-Death Group 1 and Sudden-Death Group 2.

b.      During the Championship Round, the Angler with the highest total weight of Scorable Bass will be declared the winner.



a.       During all days of competition, Anglers will fish 7.5 hours that will be divided into three periods, with 30-minute intervals between the end of a period and the beginning of the following period.

b.      Prior to the start of the first period, Anglers will convene at the edge of the zone that will be utilized for that day’s competition. Anglers will be released simultaneously (shotgun start) to begin a 15 minute non-fishing, scouting ride-around prior to the Period 1 official fishing start time.

c.       During period breaks, no Angler will be allowed to fish or try to locate fish. 

d.      Anglers will be required during period breaks to meet at a pre-determined Rendezvous Point.

e.      MLF will select the Rendezvous Point to be located at a highly centralized area of the field of competition.

f.        At the beginning of the second and third periods, anglers will take off according to their order in the standings.

g.        Round One competition day schedule will typically be as follows based on daylight:

7:00 am – 7:30 am: Launch

7:45 am – 8:00 am: Enter Zone for Scouting

8:00 am - 10:30 am: Fishing Period 1

10:30 am - 11:00 a.m.: Intermission and Rendezvous

11:00 am - 1:30 pm: Fishing Period 2

1:30 pm - 2:00 pm: Intermission and Rendezvous

2:00 pm - 4:30 pm: Fishing Period 3

h.      Round Two will follow the same schedule as the above Round One. Round Two will, however, include qualifying weight cut lines. If three anglers reach the qualifying weight, competition will cease for the day.

i.         Round Three will follow the same procedural schedule as the above Round One.



a.       Boats for tournament competition will be supplied by MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING and will be fully equipped with all essentials to meet state water safety requirements.

b.      The MLF commissioner or his designee has the right to delay, shorten or cancel the start of an event because of bad weather or other factors that would endanger the safety of the competitors.

c.       Tournament waters may also be restricted at any time because of bad weather.




a.       Competitors are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety and conservation. Any violation of the standards may be deemed cause for disqualification. (SEE Sportsmanship and Flagrant Sportsmanship Violations, definition and penalties, Rules 14 p and 14 q).

b.      Use of alcohol or drugs (other than drugs purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a licensed physician) by any competitor during MLF events could be cause for automatic disqualification.

c.       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.

d.      Boat Officials have the responsibility of reporting to the Commissioner an angler’s sportsmanship violation or a flagrant violation for any act that reflects unfavorably upon efforts to promote fisheries conservation and/or clean waters. 



a.       Interpretation and enforcement of rules shall be left exclusively to the MLF League Commissioner and his assigned designees at the competition.

b.      In the event of a rule violation, the Commissioner and his designees may impose such sanctions as disqualification and/or prohibition from participation in subsequent MLF competitions.

c.       Subject to appeal, the decision of the Commissioner and his designees, or a special rules committee established by the Commissioner shall be final in all matters.



a.      A MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING Boat Official will accompany each Angler throughout each day’s competition.

b.      Each boat will be equipped with a SCORETRACKER™ Scoring System Device that will be linked to a central database system. The device will provide  the Anglers with a Leaderboard that shows the status of the event’s points leaders.

c.       The duties of the MLF Boat Official will be to weigh and record the weight of each scorable catch, update the SCORETRACKER™ real-time leaderboard, “call the game” and communicate with the base of operation.

d.     The Boat Official will serve as rules enforcer and the boat’s official scorekeeper.

e.      Specific Penalty Violations will be assessed “on the spot” by the Boat Official and all other violations will be reported to the Commissioner or his representative.

f.       Rules decisions made by a Boat Official are considered final, unless an Angler chooses to submit a written protest to the Commissioner.




a.       MLF competition will utilize the term “Scorable Bass.” The parameters (size) of a Scorable Bass will be determined by MLF no less than 12 hours prior to the start of the tournament.


b.      Immediately after a catch is made, the bass will be verified as Scorable (or not Scorable) by the Boat Official. The Boat Official may request that any fish be put on the measuring board for verification.


c.       There is no limit to the number of Scorable Bass an Angler can catch and record during MLF competition. The only deviation from this guideline will be competition days that include a qualifying weight cutline.


d.      Only the Angler will handle bass caught during competition. Once a bass is caught, placed on the measuring board and determined as Scorable, the bass will be set onto the official scale by the Angler.


e.      The Boat Official will hold the official scale by the handle only and position it at eye level. The bass must be held steady, allowing the scale to be clearly read first by the Boat Official in full view of the TV camera.


f.         The Boat Official will “call the weight” and the Angler will immediately confirm or challenge the call. If the call is challenged by the Angler, the Boat Official will zero scale and re-weigh the fish a maximum of two (2) additional times until the Boat official and angler agree. The Angler must confirm the call.


g.        Once the call is confirmed by the Angler, the Boat Official will immediately record the weight in writing on the Boat Official’s “Daily Score Pad” and enter the weight into the MLF SCORETRACKER™ Scoring System.


h.        After agreement is secured, the Angler is permitted to physically release the fish into the water and resume fishing.




a.       The SCORETRACKER™ Scoring System will serve as the “Official Game Clock.”

b.      At the ends of periods, the Angler will be clearly notified by the Boat Official when the period competition is coming to an end and when the Angler must stop fishing. The only deviation to the scheduled ends of periods will be if all Anglers receive extra minutes because of OFFICIAL MECHANICAL TIME OUT by the Commissioner.

c.       Regarding the final cast of any period, any bass hooked on the final cast must be “inside the boat,” visibly inside the gunnel before the time expires.

d.      The legality or illegality of a period-end catch will be determined by the Boat Official.




a.       Use of nets and grippers for landing bass is prohibited.

b.      Only artificial lures can be used.

c.       All bass must be caught in a conventional sporting manner.

d.      Any bass caught while “visually fishing” must be hooked inside the mouth and verified by the Boat Official before being unhooked.  The weight of a bass caught by the technique of “visual fishing” can only be scored once during that day.

e.      Anglers will be permitted the use of a lure retriever; however, Anglers must supply their own lure retriever.


13.   TIES

a.       In case of a tie for total weight, the first tiebreaker is the total number of scorable fish caught. The second tiebreaker is the largest fish caught.





a.       PENALTY CARRY-OVER: If an angler is assessed a penalty at the end of Period One or Period Two, the penalty time spent will be at the “start of fishing” in the next period. If an angler is penalized at the conclusion of Period Three in Round One or Round Two, the penalty time spent will be at the “start of fishing” during the next Round. The beginning ride around time cannot be used for penalty time.


b.      GPS STORED WAYPOINTS: No pre-determined, user-generated GPS waypoints will be allowed. Waypoints may only be marked during competition hours.                                                           


(Penalty - Commissioner: Illegal GPS Waypoints, Disqualification)


c.       OFF LIMITS: Lake is off limits except for when anglers are competing in MLF event.                                        


(Penalty - Commissioner: Illegal Scouting, Disqualification)


d.      SHARING INFO:  An angler shall not pursue any action of any kind that may give that angler a competitive advantage during competition. All anglers, including eliminated anglers, may not talk with any other angler, sponsor, locals or anyone else except for authorized MLF media personnel about any daily results or any other event information. Anglers may not talk to Boat Officials about any other angler’s results or tactics used during any competition day. Anglers may not use any mapping or GPS device including boat electronics, cell phones, tablets or computers to research any information about any possible fisheries in the general area of the event location.


Should an angler receive information that potentially gives him a competitive advantage, such as locations: baits, topography, conditions, etc., including unsolicited information, he is required to share that information with the League Commissioner. The Commissioner shall determine whether this information should be subsequently shared with any or all other MLF competitors. 


(Penalty - Commissioner: Sharing Information, Result Disqualification)


e.      ENCROACHMENT RULE: There is no official buoy distance rule.   However, at no time is an Angler allowed to interfere with another Angler’s line. If an Angler casts close to another Angler and hooks into his line, the casting Angler will be penalized.                                                                                                                                                                                                     


(Penalty – Official: Hooking other’s line, 2 Min., stop fishing when line untangled)


f.        LANDING FISH: While landing fish, the fish cannot touch the carpet at any time during the process. If the fish comes unhooked from the bait and falls to the carpet it will be assessed as a violation. Excepted from this rule will be laying the fish on the carpet to remove a deep set hook, “only after it has been properly landed without it touching the carpet”. Angler should first ask the Boat Official to lay the fish on the carpet before doing so. Additionally, angler is not allowed to cradle fish or allow fish that he is landing to touch his body.  An angler cannot allow a fish to touch any part of his body other than his hands or forearms. From a rules standpoint, the body is to be treated the same as the carpet.


(Penalty – Official: Fish Landing violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


g.       RELEASING FISH: When releasing any fish that is scorable or not, the angler’s hand must be at gunnel level or closer to the water. No flipping or tossing of fish.


(Penalty – Official: Fish release violation, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


h.      BROKE OFF FISH: Breaking off a hooked bass while fighting and landing it will result in a penalty. If a hooked fish does not reveal itself as something other than a Bass then the fish will be judged to be a Bass. A break-off on the initial hook set will not result in a broke off fish penalty.


(Penalty – Official: Breaking off hooked fish, 2 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


i.         SECOND LINE: An Angler will be allowed to utilize a second line in the water ONCE PER PERIOD. However, when utilizing a second line, an Angler must employ a “cast and retrieve” method. If an Angler casts a second line in the water more than once per period, the Angler will receive a penalty. Dragging a line from a stationery rod is not permitted. Although the Angler will be penalized for the second-time use of two lines, any bass caught that is scorable will count.                                                                        


(Penalty – Official: Illegal 2nd Line, 1 Min., stop fishing when 2nd lure is retrieved)


j.        LEAVING BOAT: Angler may not leave the boat for the purpose of fishing. Leaving the boat for non-fishing reasons is allowed. Leaving the boat to assist in landing a hooked fish, as an act of fishing, will result in a penalty. Although penalized, if an Angler retrieves a Scorable bass, the fish will count.                   


(Penalty – Official: Leaving Boat to fish, 4 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


k.       OUT OF BOUNDS: On some bodies of water, Anglers will compete in a pre-determined zone each day. The boat must be positioned inside the zone boundaries. Fishing outside of the boundaries is allowed as long as the boat position remains inside the boundaries. Any boat position outside the zone will result in a penalty.                                                                                                  


(Penalty – Official: Boat out of Bounds, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


l.         GRAPHING: Graphing between periods in order to locate fish is not allowed.                                       


(Penalty – Official: Graphing between Periods, 5 Minutes at start of next period)


m.    GOING NEUTRAL: Round Two Anglers will be required to “go neutral” immediately after they have qualified for the next round of competition. Going neutral means the Angler is required to immediately stop fishing and return to a designated Rendezvous Point.


(Penalty – Official: Failure to “Go Neutral,” 5 Minutes  at start of Championship Fishing Period. The ride around time cannot be used for 5 minute penalty time)


n.      PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE: Each competitor and Boat Official must wear a Coast Guard-approved chest-type life preserver. Camera Operators are not required to wear the PFD but one must be on board for them.  Life preservers must be strapped, snapped or zippered securely and maintained in that condition until the combustion engine is taken out of gear.                               


(Penalty - Official: Safe-boat conduct Penalty, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


o.      KILL SWITCH: The Angler or other appointed driver must have his boat’s kill switch connected any time the combustion engine is in gear.


                      (Penalty – Official: Kill-switch connection, 5 Minutes immediate, stop fishing)


p.      SPORTSMANSHIP: A Sportsmanship Violation is defined as aggressive or hostile behavior directed at a fellow Angler, Boat Official, a non-competitor or a representative of MLF, including the use of profanity directed at these individuals, will not be tolerated.  Boat Officials are required to report violations.


(Sportsmanship Violation, Penalty will be determined by the COMMISSIONER)


q.      FLAGRANT VIOLATION: A flagrant violation for any act that reflects unfavorably upon the positive efforts of MLF, MLF sponsors, spectators, fisheries conservation, and clean waters will not be tolerated.                                                                                                                                    


(Flagrant Sportsmanship Violation, Penalty determined by COMMISSIONER)


r.        MECHANICAL FAULT: If an Angler experiences mechanical failure during MLF competition and the Boat Official determines that the Angler is at fault for the problem, no TIME OUT will be called.                                                                                                                                          


(Penalty – Boat Official: Self-inflicted Mechanical Failure, No time out for repair)


s.       MECHANICAL FAILURE If an Angler’s boat experiences mechanical failure during competition and the problem is determined by the Boat Official to be no fault of the Angler, an OFFICIAL TIME OUT will be issued. All competing Anglers will be promptly notified when the OFFICIAL TIME OUT is to begin. Anglers must immediately stop fishing when the OFFICIAL TIME OUT is called. Any Angler in the process of reeling in a “hooked” bass will be allowed to count the weight of this bass toward his daily weight total should he bring the bass into his boat.


The OFFICIAL TIME OUT will be employed for the duration required to replace the Angler’s boat or appropriate boat part. The Boat Official of the Angler experiencing the boat failure will notify the MLF Commissioner and the Commissioner will communicate the beginning and ending times for the OFFICIAL TIME OUT.


At the end of the period, Anglers will be allotted extra minutes of fishing, with the total number of minutes equaling the duration of the TIME OUT. MLF reserves the right to alter the day’s competitive time schedule should a TIME OUT occur.