BASS Pro are ABT’s longest running events and we run around 6“Qualifier” events each year that are open to all ABT Members.
You can enter these with the membership form that’s located on any of the bass event information pages and the only real limitation is the number of boats that enter. That’s as many non-boaters as we can take. Typically we get 95%+ of non-boaters a spot and if we can’t you’ll get a full refund of event fees or that amount of entry credits for the next event.
At a Qualifier event, boaters fish for cash prizes (usually between $600 and $4,000 and paid to the top 1/5 of anglers) and non-boaters fish for product prizes donated by product sponsors – usually to the top 10 places.
Both boaters and non boaters get badges for a top 10 placing and the winning angler in each division gets a trophy and instant qualification into the BASS Pro Grand Final for the season.
Entry fees at the time of writing are $150 for a non-boater and $275 for a boater.
Per event, information is usually available on the website. ABT published an info sheet with venue, date and local information – including a Google Map of the arena, with boundaries and no-go zones. This is worth studying.
Through these Qualifier events, you can qualify for the BASS Pro Grand Final, which is a season ending event each calendar year. Typically boaters fish for a big prize such as a boat package and non-boaters fish for an epic tackle prize from lots of ABT sponsors.
As well as the winners of each qualifier and the previous year’s champion, the rest of the 30-boat field is filled with your placing in the Angler of the Year (AOY) points table and declined invitations are replaced with the next down that list. You can see how AOY works in the rules here.
BASS Pro BRIEFING
Each event, there’s a briefing held at or near the event site. It’s compulsory to attend the briefing, because that’s where you’ll meet your fishing partners for the weekend. Sign in starts the hour before the briefing starts and by the start of the briefing, all of the competitors are expected to sign in. If you miss the briefing (or event the start time) a boater will be penalised with a “start last” penalty.
At the sign-in you’ll need to show your fishing licence (NSW/VIV) or Stocked Impoundment Permit (QLD) and answer a few easy questions about some of the gear you use (for sponsor-survey reasons).
During the briefing, the Tournament Director will explain the rules of the event and any idiosyncrasies that the venue encompasses. Anglers can ask questions and everyone can hear the answers. It usually takes about 20 minutes.
The last part of the briefing is the partner draw, where you’ll meet both of your partners for the two days of fishing at once. This happens by reading out the names of two Boaters and two Non-boaters. You make up a group of four and head out of the briefing to make your plans. The boaters will be given a card that outlines their partner name for each day and session finish time, so it’s easy to sort out amongst the four of you when you get away from the crowd.
It’s a good idea to take maybe a pen and paper to write down any pertinent details – at the very least the phone number of your partner each day and any plans that you make – times and locations to meet etc.
Non-boaters: At this point it’s a good time to ask your boater what is an appropriate amount of gear to take and if there’s any space limitations on their boat, Your boater will let you know if there are any limitations and it’s also good to have a conversation about maybe a lure genre or two that you may want to rig up.
Boaters: Make sure you get your non-boater’s details. If you can’t find them in the morning we don’t stop running the event to help you out. We will have lots of time to help you out after the event has started.
You should have made plans to meet your partner for the day at the briefing. Sometimes the day’s partner will help you put the boat in if all are comfortable with that. Sometimes their travelling partner will help put the boat in and you’ll just meet before the start at the event site.
Allow plenty of time to get organised before check out and the advertised start time. Remember that you need to get the boat checked out BEFORE the start time. ABT advertised the check out times at the briefing, but it usually starts an hour before the nominated start time.
ABT checks that the livewell is empty, anglers have their PFDs and that your outboard’s kill switch works. This is done sometimes at checkout and sometimes at the start, depending on the risks of the start area. You’re then issued a key-tag with your start number on it. Don’t lose it!
Non-boaters, make sure you have your own PFD to wear while underway, your tackle/food and any wet weather gear you might need. Ask the boater if there’s a hatch to store stuff in. Boaters, it’s usually courteous to make a hatch available for the non-boater to store some of their gear in.
At this time, it’s always good to have a discussion about where the other safety gear is (like fire extinguisher etc).
If everyone is checked out before the start time (and it’s after official sunrise), the Tournament Director may choose to start boats a little early. Make sure everything is strapped down and you’re free to head out fishing for the day.
Fishing rules are here, but if it’s a weigh-in event, it’s now up to you to catch your limit of fish. Mostly, anglers net each other’s fish, but if you want to net your own, just let your partner know.
Non-boaters, there’s a few unwritten rules that you’ll likely want to know. Non-boaters usually fish from the back deck where possible and they don’t cast over the boater’s line, unless invited.
Boaters should be courteous enough to position the boat so that the non-boater gets a shot at catching their limit.
At the end of the session, non-boaters usually take on the responsibility of returning the key tag to the tag board. This is a big responsibility, because if you forget to do it, you’ll BOTH wear a late penalty proportional to how late it was when you remembered to put it on. This is a non-negotiable rule – we go looking for you if we don’t have all key tags in.
Non-boaters also often stand in line for the weigh-bags while the boater looks after their boat.
Often the non-boater will offer some money to help with the fuel costs for the day. Sometimes it is accepted and sometimes it’s not. It is, however, nice to offer.
Make sure you both check your scored on the ABT website after the weigh-in … we like to know if there are any issues straight away. Anglers are issues with a weigh-in receipt and the weigh in is usually live-streamed and we can use these resources to correct any mistakes.
If it’s an App event, make sure that you have plenty of power in your phone and a way to recharge it. Anglers will enter their own fish but you may want your partner to help you with any Glory Photos that you want to submit.
Boaters are issued all scoresheets, folders, pencils and rulers at the briefing. Your daily key-tag is usually the icon for the on-ruler pics.
In an App event, instead of a weigh-in at the end, you just line up with your score sheets and ABT staff will reconcile your limit fish with what’s on the scoreboard. If they match, it’s a 15 second process and if not, we have the tools to track down the missing data.
This leads us to the #1 tip in App events. ALWAYS TAKE YOUR RULER PIC ON THE PHONE CAMERA AND THEN IMPORT IT INTO THE APP! We can always reconstruct a day with these pics, but if you don’t have a pic, ABT won’t award any points.
AFTER THE DAY
Typically, it’s poor form for a non-boater to tell their subsequent boater about where they fished the day before. Tell everyone about your awesome catches, though, on social media and make sure you tag ABT on Instagram or Facebook.
There’s a presentation straight after the final weigh-in that it’s nice to stick around for to congratulate your fellow competitors. This usually is 10 minutes after the end of the weigh-in or check-in and takes about 15 minutes.