2023 National Trail Tournament Rules
Notice: All anglers entering a tournament are subjected to the rules and by entering the tournament you are agreeing that you have read the rules, accept the rules and will abide by the rules.
You may continue to register at the bottom of the rules page.
1. TEAMS: You may enter alone or with a partner of your choice. No more than two (2) persons will be allowed in a participating boat during tournament hours. Team captain will be listed first, your partner will be allowed to miss 2 tournaments and still obtain your points if you fish alone.
2. RULES MEETING: One team member must be present at angler meeting and remain until the angler meeting is dismissed unless approved by Tournament Director for emergency reasons.
3. WEATHER: In the case of extreme weather/water conditions or National emergencies, Corn Belt Crappie Trail shall have the right to postpone or cancel any tournaments.
4. FISHING HOURS: Fishing hours will be posted on our website and will be announced at the Rules Meeting.
5. REGISTRATION: You must register and pay on our website 7 days before the first day of the tournament. Registration and payment can be taken after cutoff with a $100 LATE FEE.
6. ENTRY FEES/REFUNDS: Each regular season tournament is $250 per team. The national championship is $350 per team. Corn Belt Crappie Trail will not refund or forward entry fees for lake conditions, fishing conditions or bite. Teams must request forward/refund for personal, family or work emergencies in writing or electronic mail stating the reason for the request.
7. STATE LAW: Teams must comply with all State and boating regulations throughout the entire year, including the use of P.F.D.’s and kill switches. Fishing, boating regulations, and licenses are the responsibility of team members. State fishing laws and boating regulations supersede tournament rules. Violation of State or Lake Laws is grounds for disqualification.
8. MINORS: Any minor (under 18) who participates, must have a legal guardian present to enter the tournament.
9. BIG FISH: Big fish entries are included in the tournament entry. Only one (1) Big Fish entry per team. Only one (1) big fish will be weighed in. Teams will have that fish marked and designated as their big fish at weigh-in.
10. MEMBERSHIP: Corn Belt Crappie Trail membership is required to fish all our events. Failure to have an active/paid membership is grounds for disqualification. Corn Belt Crappie Trail reserves the right to refuse and/or revoke memberships without cause, reason and/or explanation and without recourse at our own discretion. Membership does not guarantee the ability to enter a tournament. Corn Belt Crappie Trail may deny tournament entry to a member without cause, reason, explanation or recourse. (Memberships are $20 per year per angler)
11. PRIZES: If prizes are given after the tournament. Teams must be present to receive prize.
12. FISHABLE WATERS: Fishing within 50 feet of a Marina gas pump or within 50 feet of a competitor’s boat is prohibited. Any area of water that can be reached by boat from a non-river boat ramp. You may fish the rivers if you can reach them from the main lake.
13. ALCOHOL: Alcohol beverages are not allowed during the tournament hours. Use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs during tournament hours is prohibited and will result in disqualification.
14. COMPENSATION: No one can be hired, compensated, or offered compensation in any way to fish with you, mark fishing spots for you, or help you gain a competitive advantage in anyway 30 days prior to any tournament.
15. GUIDES: If you guide on a lake that the tournament is being held, you will not be able to participate in that tournament.
16. BOATS: You must fish from a boat. Rubber Rafts or Canoes are not allowed. All tournament boats are required to have a minimum 6 HP or greater motor. If one team member needs to exit the boat, the other team member may continue fishing as long as the exiting team member does not return to the boat that day. If a team member begins the day fishing solo, they must finish out the day fishing solo.
17. POLES: Each angler has to follow the state rules.
18. BAITS: A maximum of two baits per pole may be used during tournament hours if in accordance with Local and State laws. Live and artificial bait may be used unless announced differently on the Tournament Information Page or at the Rules Meeting.
19. OFF LIMITS: Tournament waters are off limits 14 days prior to the start of the first day of practice, this includes guiding.
20. PRACTICE DAYS: Will be Saturday thru Thursday before the first day of the tournament. You will need to be off the water by 1 PM for a Thursday Night Rules Meeting
21. CELL PHONES: Cell phones are prohibited during tournament hours unless used for an emergency. You may also use your cell phone if you spot someone cheating to either take a photo of them and or contact a tournament director.
22. SPOTTING: During tournament hours no one may spot fish for you or mark fishing spots for you.
23. OTHER EQUIPMENT: Binoculars and other magnifying devices are not allowed during tournament hours or within 30 day prior to the tournament. Under water cameras during competition is not allowed. The use of mobile communication devices such as cellular phones, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CB’S, etc. to communicate fishing information during tournament hours is prohibited.
24. LANDING FISH: Crappie must be hooked and landed with a rod or pole by team member(s). Crappie must be hooked through the lip or in the mouth. Landing nets may be used.
25. HOLE- SITTING: No hole sitting by a competitor or non-competitor boat during the tournament will be allowed. This means that a non-competitors hold fishing spots or relay information to competitors.
26. LIFE JACKETS: Life jackets or personal flotation devices must always be worn while your combustion engine is operating. Life jackets must be properly secured and maintained secured until the combustion engine is turned off. Kill switches must always be properly attached the combustion engine is on. All State and Local rules and regulations supersede tournament rules.
27. LIVE WELL CHECKS: Live Well checks will take place on each tournament morning at the designated time and place listed on our website. The team captain will have to initial the official live well check document.
28. EARLY WEIGH-IN: Teams are allowed one (1) weigh-in on tournament day. Scales will open two hours before the end of the official fishing hours for teams to weigh in early if needed.
29. FISH: All fish must be brought to the official weigh-in line in a cooler. Coolers must be a minimum of 25 quarts. Failure to bring your fish to the weigh-in line in a cooler will result in disqualification. Fish bags or buckets are prohibited. Teams may weigh in seven (7), live crappie on tournament day. Teams seven (7) crappie must be alive when entering the official weigh-in line. Teams presenting more than seven crappies will be disqualified. Once you have entered the weigh-in line, your fish will be counted and be verified dead or alive by the tournament official. Dead fish will be removed, and you may then continue to the scales for your official weigh-in. Once your fish have been verified alive, you will then be allowed to weigh those fish, even if one or more die before reaching the scales. The tournament official has sole responsibility for the declaration of dead or alive crappie. No mutilated fish may be weighed. Mutilation is defined as any damage that impairs the fish’s fighting ability. All decisions regarding mutilation will be made by Corn Belt Crappie Trail tournament officials. Corn Belt Crappie Trail has the right to keep weighed in fish for further evaluation at our own discretion without explanation or cause.
30. WEIGH-IN SITE: Crappie must be weighed at the official Corn Belt Crappie Trail tournament Weigh-In site. You must check in at the official Weigh-In Line by the announced time that will be announced at the Rules Meeting. Example: Must be in the Weigh-In Line by 4:00 PM; you must be in the Weigh-In Line by 4:00:00 PM. If you make it to the official Weigh-In Line at 4:00:01 or later, then you will be disqualified. The Tournament Director will make the announcement when the Weigh-In Line is closed.
31. LENGTH: All crappie brought to the scales for weigh-in must meet State length requirements for the State and may not have any weight enhancements. Any team bringing in illegal crappie to the weigh-in line will be disqualified. A 9” length limit will be enforced on lakes without a length limit.
32. TIES: In the case of a tie, the tie breaker will be determined by the team’s biggest fish, if the big fish is also a tie the winner will be decided in a coin flip. Best 2 out of 3 flips.
33. PROTEST: Protest must be made in writing to the Tournament Director within 30 minutes following the end of the Official Weigh-In and signed by the person protesting. Protests must cite the rule allegedly broken. Protests must be given to the Tournament Director. Protest must be deemed a legitimate protest by Tournament Director. Both parties may be subjected to a polygraph. All parties involved and all grievances, protests, and complaints shall be handled in house with confidentiality. The Tournament Director’s decision is final in all matters.
34. COMPLAINTS: Complaints about teams outside of protest times should be made directly to Corn Belt Crappie Trail Corp. Board of Directors. Complaints must be in written format. Corn Belt Crappie Trail decisions in handling complaints is final in all matters.
35. SPOTTERS/OBSERVERS: Corn Belt Crappie Trail shall have the right to place a spotter boat/and/or an observer in the boat with any competitive team at any time during the competition, from the start of competition to the finish. Any refusal will be grounds for disqualification.
36. BOAT/LIVE WELL/STORAGE: Corn Belt Crappie Trail tournament officials shall have the right to at random, board and inspect the boat of any competing members, at any time from Registration until the end of the tournament. Refusal to allow inspection is grounds for disqualification.
SPORTSMANSHIP: Team members/Corn Belt Crappie Trail members are required to follow high standards of sportsmanship, honesty, courtesy, safety, conservation and to conduct themselves in a manner that will be a credit to themselves, Corn Belt Crappie Trail, Corn Belt Crappie Trail sponsors, the sport of fishing, and Corn Belt Crappie Trail efforts to promote the sport. Examples of conduct not complying with those standards include, but are not limited to, the following: Violation of or failure to comply with any of the official rules
CONDUCT: In case of any conduct not complying with the standards, Corn Belt Crappie Trail shall have the right to refuse any entry application, deny a paid entry application, or revoke a membership by returning the entry fee/membership fee of a previously accepted application, or to disqualify a team. Unsportsmanlike conduct can be grounds for disqualification if circumstances require and will be at the discretion of the Tournament Director. Unsportsmanlike conduct could result in membership revocation.
POINTS RACE: Tournament points layout. 1st place will receive 200, 2nd will receive 199, 3rd will receive 198 and so on down the line. Big fish will be worth an additional point. If you don't weigh in any fish you only receive 50 points. Your best 4 finishes plus the Championship will be used to determine the Angler Team of the Year. In the event of a tie the winner will be decided by a big fish tie breaker. If the big fish is a tie the winner will be determined by a coin flip. (Best 2 out of 3). If you enter with a different partner that would be considered a different team, your partner will be allowed to miss 2 tournaments and still obtain your points if you fish alone.
TOURNAMENT PAYOUT: The top 4 teams will receive plaques. 10% of entrees will be held back for tournament cost and 10% of the total pot will go to the big fish 1st and 2nd winner. Payout formula is 1 in 5. For example if we have 100 teams competing we will pay out 20 places. Our payout structure is on our website.
POLYGRAPH: By your participation in a Corn Belt Crappie Trail tournament, you agree to comply with the rules, and agree to submit to and pass a polygraph test or similar truth test in order to qualify for the receipt of any prize. Corn Belt Crappie Trail shall have the right to polygraph any competing team, at Corn Belt Crappie Trail discretion. Any team having a member who has failed or refused to take a polygraph test or was a team that was disqualified or denied a prize because either member of that team failed or refused to take a polygraph or who has ever been denied a prize because he or she misrepresented compliance with a tournament rule or because of unsportsmanlike conduct may be disqualified and/or have their membership revoked. A team member who failed to pass a polygraph or whose condition does not permit the administration of a test because of team member’s use of alcohol or drugs will be disqualified. The use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs during tournament hours is prohibited.
QUALIFYING: A team can automatically qualify for the National Championship by placing in the top 10 at a regular season event, fishing 2 regular season events, or accumulating 350 points in the National Points Race. Teams will also be able to qualify through Corn Belt Crappie state trails by finishing in the top 5 of the state trail points race.
TEAM CHANGE: If a qualified team member has sickness, loss of death or other reasonable personal tragedy, they may fish the Championship with another Championship qualified Corn Belt Crappie Trail member. This must be approved by the Tournament Director.