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Rules: Welcome


Open to all individuals, male and female, over the age of 18 at the time of registration. Juniors (under 18) may fish under a parent’s immediate supervision. Any angler who has competed in a B.A.S.S. Elite Series event (excluding the Bassmaster Classic) or MLF Bass Pro Tour event during the 12 months prior to any Empire Team Trail event is not eligible to compete. Open Tournaments may have competitor limits per lake. In the event the limit is reached, competitors who have already registered as a Bassmaster Team, and completed registration and payment of B.A.S.S. fees will be given priority to fish. All participants must sign the release of liability at registration to be eligible to compete in any Empire Team Trail event.

All Teams participating in Empire Team Trail tournaments MUST pay the B.A.S.S. Team Membership fee through Empire Team Trail ($10 per person, per season).

Entry fees are $150 per team, per tournament. This rate includes a $5.00 Lunker entry. Some events may have increased/decreased entry fees, which will be made public as soon as available. Participants are highly encouraged to pre-register online, and submit payment via PayPal.  Registration will close at 5:00 pm EST the Monday before each event. Refunds must be requested 15 days prior to events, afterwards refunds are not provided.

Prize money will be awarded by cash or check at the conclusion of the weigh-in. This will consist of the following:
Lunker - $5 per team (ex. 30 boats = $150)
Trail Championship payout - $15 per entry
Team of the Year - $5 per entry
1st Place - 45% of purse (ex. 30 boats = $1,485)
2nd Place - 25% of purse (ex. 30 boats = $825)
3rd Place - 15% of purse (ex. 30 boats = $495)
4th Place - 10% of purse (ex. 30 boats = $330)
5th Place - 5% of purse (ex. 30 boats = $165)
Winners are responsible for any and all taxes on any money or prizes won. 90% of all $150 entry fees will go directly to prize payouts (points and championship). The remaining 10% will support trail operating costs, including but not limited to equipment/resources, permits, insurance and Weigh-Master costs.  Any additional funds collected will be used for Empire Team Trail Championship payouts and/or other costs to support the trail at the Tournament Committee’s discretion.

Off limits will be within 100 yards of the launch. Certain events may have increased off limit areas. It will be the angler’s responsibility to check with a Tournament Committee Member on clarification of additional limits.  No team will be allowed to lock into another body of water (like Oneida to Onondaga).  Failure to adhere to this rule will result in disqualification of catch for that day.

Tournament hours will be determined from safe light and rounded to the next half hour (5:47 = 6:00am, 6:08 = 6:30am) and will run for 8 hours. The Tournament Committee reserves the right to change hours if necessary.

At the designated start of the tournament anglers will be sent in flights of 10 boats. Flights will be released approximately every 60 seconds. Flight number will be determined by order of
registration. Anglers may begin fishing once they reach their starting spot. Non-standard events outside of the points tournaments may have different launch procedures. It will be the angler’s responsibility to check with a Tournament Committee Member on clarification of the launch sequence.

Safe boating conduct must be observed at all times. Each competitor is required to wear a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device, securely fastened, at all times while the boat is being propelled by the combustion engine. Furthermore, a kill switch must be fastened to the driver
anytime the combustion engine is propelling the boat. Failure to do so is grounds for disqualification of the offending team's catch. Running lights must be operational and turned on when in accordance with law. Each competitor's boat must be equipped with a livewell system capable of keeping a tournament limit of bass alive. Any boat equipped with a motor that exceeds the horse power rating of the boat according to the manufacturer is prohibited from being used.  Maximum horsepower allowed on any participating vessel (per B.A.S.S. rules) is 250 HP. All auxiliary gas tanks and bladder tanks that are not installed by the boat manufacturer are prohibited. Additional gas tanks that are factory options and installed by a manufacturer's authorized dealer are legal. Boats that do not have factory-installed gas tanks are restricted to a maximum of 18 gallons of gasoline in tanks that meet U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Gas tanks must be properly secured or strapped in the boat. During the tournament, no portable gas tanks or containers capable of holding gasoline can be placed anywhere on the tournament waters or shoreline for use by any tournament competitor.

Each contestant is expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, and conservation. No team may fish within 50 yards of any other boat which is anchored with the trolling motor up. Furthermore, no team may fish within 25 yards of any other boat without the other boater’s permission. Permission may not be granted to any team at the exclusion of any other team. No hole sitting by a non-competitor or by another competitor, to aid a tournament
participant will be allowed. Violators will have their catch disqualified.

Only artificial baits may be used. No live or cut bait is permitted (pork baits are permitted). All bass must be caught alive in a legal and sporting manner. No snagging. Each competitor may only use 1 rod at a time. No more than 1 line in the water at a time per angler. Trolling with the combustion motor and/or electronic motor is not permitted. No competitor may leave the boat to land or catch fish.

All participants are expected to abide by all state and federal laws and game regulations. Any team who intentionally violates a law or regulation in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage will

have their catch disqualified. In the case of multiple governing authorities, the strictest law is applicable. For any tournament where anglers could possibly enter Canadian waters, it is the angler’s responsibility to understand and adhere to all laws, regulations and requirements pertaining to entering and/or fishing Canadian waters. Any participant who consumes, or is under the influence
of alcoholic beverages, stimulants or depressants during any tournament function will have their catch disqualified (prescribed medications taken per doctor’s instructions are excluded).

A limit of 5 bass (largemouth, smallmouth) may be weighed in. Minimum lengths will be set at
the discretion of the Tournament Committee, but at no time will be less than the legal limit. Lengths will be measured with mouth closed and tail pinched. No culling of dead fish. A short fish brought to the scales will not be weighed, and will result in a 1 pound penalty, with potential disqualification from the event, and future events. Dead fish must be presented to the Weigh Master or a Tournament Committee Member. If a dead fish is identified by the Weigh Master or a Tournament Committee Member, and the fish has not been presented as dead (or for review), the fish will be disqualified, and will not be weighed. Any dead fish presented to the Weigh Master or a Tournament Committee Member will be penalized .5 (1/2) pound. Dead fish cannot be weighed as Lunker. In the event of a tie the team with larger Lunker will take higher placement. It is the team’s responsibility to choose to have Lunker weighed. Empire Team Trail expects that anglers will adhere to best practices concerning fish care. We understand that there is a potential for a fish to die, however in that circumstance, we also expect the angler/team to proceed in a respectful manner. Under no circumstance is an angler to release a dead fish back into the fishery. NYS DEC law dictates that an angler may keep up to 5 fish per day. In the spirit of tournament angling we hope to see all fish returned safely, to be caught another day, however if a fish does die, you are expected to keep/take the fish with you. If upon release, a fish seems of questionable health, it is the responsibility of the angler to nurse the fish back to health, or make the decision to keep the fish, if it cannot be released to swim away under its own power. Any dead or dying fish left in the water upon release will result in a 2 pound penalty. Tournament Committee Members will be monitoring fish-release activities.
Points: We will award 300 points to the winner of each tournament, with a five-point decrease per position through fifth place, which receives 280 points. There is a four-point decrease from sixth (276) to 10th (260); a three-point decrease per position from 11th place (257) to 15th (245); and a two-point decrease per position from 16th place through the rest of the field. If anglers finish in a tie they will receive equal points based the place finished, however Lunker should alleviate this.  ​Only 3 of the 4 points tournaments will count towards the final points tally. For teams who fish all 4 points events, the lowest score from each team will be dropped.

Competitors shall remain with their partners in the boat at all times during the tournament, except in the event of sickness or brief excursions for nature calling, severe storm, or other such hazard. It is permitted for a competitor to leave the boat for marina services. Competitors may leave the boat to dislodge it, but only to return the boat in the direction it came from. Leaving the boat to advance it is not permitted. (In falling water conditions, a team may leave the boat to advance it only to return from water they accessed without leaving the boat.) If for any reason either or both team members decide to leave the tournament waters early, both members shall bear full responsibility for notifying a Tournament Committee Member. If one team member leaves the water early, he/she must notify a Tournament Committee Member before returning to fish and the other team member may continue fishing in his/her absence. In the event that he/she does not intend to return, his/her partner may continue fishing alone for the remainder of the tournament hours. In case of a breakdown, one partner may return with fish (by another tournament boat), while the other partner is permitted to stay with the disabled boat.


Please reference Empire Facebook posts, or contact us at for questions.

Standard weigh-in procedures are as follows:
In order to weigh their fish, a team member will be required to obtain a mesh weigh bag from the weigh-station. A limited number of bags will be made available, in order to keep the line to a minimum, ultimately in an effort to maintain the health of the fish. Fish are expected to be kept in an aerated livewell until an Empire mesh bag is obtained. Once fish have been presented to the Weigh Master to be weighed, no additional fish may be brought to the scales. Teams not weighing any fish are still required to check-in with tournament officials, in order to account for all teams. Once a team member has checked in, or left the boat for the purpose of checking in, neither team member may continue fishing.

Competitors who are not checked in by the check-in deadline will be penalized at a rate of 1 pound per minute, up to 15 minutes at which time their catch will be disqualified. Late penalties
will be deducted from Lunker weight as well as total weight.

All Tournaments will be fished in an open fashion with any partner. To qualify for the Empire Team
Trail Championship, you must have fished with the same partner for a minimum of 3 out of the 4 points events, and meet qualification guidelines. If a team member is unable to attend an event, the remaining partner may fish alone, and the points will count towards the team total. No partner substitutions will be allowed for points. Additionally, B.A.S.S. rules state that any individual fishing the trail (not fishing as a team) will not be eligible to qualify for the National Team Championship.  An individual fishing alone will still be eligible to earn points and qualify for the Empire Team Trail Championship. B.A.S.S. rules also dictate that any participant in the National Team Championship must be 16 years old.  If you are fishing with a child who will NOT be 16, you may fish Empire Team Trail events, but will not be eligible for Nationals. The Empire Team Trail Committee reserves the right to review and address situations of hardship, as they pertain to a permanent substitution. Partner disagreements do not constitute a hardship.

Any protest must be submitted in writing to a Tournament Committee Member within 15 minutes of the close of the weigh-in. Empire Team Trail reserves the right to give a polygraph, or other truth verification test to any participant at any time. This test does not have to be administered on site
and may be set up by the Tournament Committee at their discretion. All participants agree to abide by the results of any polygraph or other truth verification test administered. In the event of a protest and an off-site polygraph or other truth verification test, the Tournament Committee will
have the option of mailing all the checks to the teams in the money, pending the outcome of the

The top 25 teams in the points race, prior to the championship, and who have competed together in at least 3 of the 4 open points tournaments, will qualify for the Empire Team Trail
Championship. Winning team(s)* of the Empire Team Trail Championship will qualify for the Bassmaster National Team Championship, provided Empire's B.A.S.S. membership numbers allow for qualification of a second team.

*We will be allowed to send 1 team per 25 teams who register with Empire Team Trail. The 1st spot is awarded to AOY, the second is awarded to the Championship winners.  Any subsequent qualification spots available will be filled by teams in the points race, with spots being offered by order of finish beginning with 2nd place.

All participants must carry a minimum of $300,000 of liability insurance on any boat they might use during any Empire Team Trail tournament. Failure to do so, or reporting of false information
will result in disqualification of catch, and possible disqualification from future events.

The violation of a tournament rule by either team member may result in weight loss, the loss of weight up to a particular time in the tournament day (eligible for a restart), loss of weight for the entire day, disqualification for the entire tournament or, in an extreme circumstance, ineligibility to participate in future Empire Team Trail events. If the Tournament Committee feels that the violation was a willful attempt to gain an unfair advantage or to intentionally cheat, then the
Tournament Committee has the right to refuse entry from that team or team members in the future.

Interpretation of these rules will be left to the Tournament Committee Members. Infraction of any rule may result in disqualification of catch.

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