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RULES for 2024

  • RULE & CHANGES: Decisions of the Tournament Director are final. Protests must be submitted in writing by a competitor within 15 minutes of the announcement “scales are officially closed”. Each angler must report to the Tournament Director any violation or infraction of any tournament rule. *Failure to report rule violations or unsportsmanlike conduct will also be cause for disqualification.

  • PARTICIPATION; The Illini Team Trail will have 12 one day events. Entry fee for each event will be $200 per team, which includes Big Bass. Each team may weigh one Big Bass to count towards the Big Bass pot. [Participation is at the discretion of the Tournament Director]. Membership is $25 per angler, per year, substitutes must be members, and reported the morning of event fished, NO EXCEPTIONS. One partner must be 18 years of age or older. No angler shall be eligible if found to have been caught cheating in any fishing contest.

  • CLASSIC QUALIFIERS; after the conclusion of the 12 qualifying events in the ITT season, any team who has participated in 7 events, and fished 3 of the 7 qualifing events with their Classic partner, in the same boat, at the same event, will be eligible to compete in the Mike James Memorial Classic. There will be a mandatory $200 per team Classic fee that includes Big Bass and will pay back 100%. Classic Registration will be on Wednesday October 16, 2024. The Classic will be a two-day cumulative weight event on Thursday, October 17 & Friday, October 18, 2024. All qualified teams will fish both days. Season points leader will be first to take off on both days. The field will take off on day one in year to date standing order. Day two take-off will be in inverted order.          

  • REGISTRATION: Shall be at the boat launch location the morning of each scheduled event. NO Pre-Pay registration will be accepted. Boat launch numbers will be assigned the morning of the event in the order registrations are completed.

  • SUBSTITUTES; Use as many substitutes as you would like, but you must fish at least 3 of the necessary 7 qualifying events with your Classic partner, together in the same boat, at the same event (your classic partner is who you signed up with on your registration form). Your best 7 events will be applied to your year-to-date points. SUBS MUST BE identified at sign-in the morning of each event for points credit to your team, (otherwise a new team will be formed and points will start new). A team member may fish alone to gain the required number of events for the team. The Director has the right to make a decision in emergency situations.

  • PRACTICE AND OFF LIMITS: During regular season events there will be no official practice days or off-limits periods.

  • *For ITT Classic, 2024 off-limit time begins at 12:01am Thursday October 3rd, 2024, through 12:01am Thursday, October 10, 2024. Official practice will begin at 12:01am Friday, October 11, 2024 through Wednesday, October16,2024, on the Classic body of water,  TBA Official Competition Days for the Classic will be Thursday, October 17th and Friday, October 18th, 2024, at their respective location, TBA *The No Information rule applies to all qualified teams beginning 12:01 am Wednesday, October 3, 2023, before the Classic, through the conclusion of the ITT Classic on October 18, 2024. During the off limits, competitors may not receive any fishing, lake, location, or other information from any non-competitor. During off-limits, there will be no hiring of guides or no purchasing or bartering of any fishing locations or information. These questions will be addressed in the polygraph concluding the ITT Classic.

  • *When fishing on a river system, (except Kentucky/Barkley Lakes) competitors will be allowed to enter a lock to access a different pool of the river. Competitors will be allowed one lock, up or down.

  • SPORTSMANSHIP: All contestants are required to follow and maintain the highest standards of conservation, courtesy and sportsmanship. Consumption of alcohol during the tournament, during and before the weighing of your fish is not allowed. Use or possession of illegal drugs during an event will be grounds for disqualification. No Smoking while waiting to weigh your fish.

  • Fighting, disorderly conduct, poor sportsmanship, suspension or disqualification from any other tournament event, or failing to comply with the Illini Team Trail Rules will not be tolerated. The Tournament Director shall have the right to refuse any application, or to deny any confirmed application, by returning the entry fee of a previously accepted application, or to disqualify a contestant.

  •   SAFETY: Safe boating must be observed at all times. Each contestant is required to wear a Coast Guard approved P.F.D. anytime the combustion engine is being used. The Tournament Director may shorten, suspend, postpone, or cancel a day's event in the event of unsafe weather or unsafe water conditions. In the event of an emergency contestants should call 911 immediately and then notify the Tournament Director.

  • BOAT OPERATION; During tournament hours, a team may not obtain or receive assistance from non-competitors, follow a non-competitor's boat or participate in the practice of “hole sitting”, or the placing of markers by anyone. The use of electronic devices including but not limited to CB’s, marine radios, two-way radios, cell phones\, etc., during tournament hours is prohibited except in the event of an emergency, or to contact the Tournament Director. All boats must be equipped with an “ignition shut off device” and must be attached to the boat operators' body anytime the boat is in operation.

  • BOAT AND HORSEPOWER REGULATIONS; Boats must have all U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment and must be 16’ or more in length with a functional bilge pump. All boats must have adequate LiveWell and aerators to maintain a limit of fish alive. Maximum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition will be 300HP. Horsepower cannot exceed the limitation capacity set forth on the “Max Capacities” placard. Fuel may be carried only in factory-installed (built-in) fuel tanks. Any additional fuel used during the tournament days must be purchased from a retail facility opened to the public and pumped through a hose and nozzle.

  • PERMITTED FISHING METHODS: Only artificial lures may be used with the exception of pork trailers. ONLY one rod (8’ maximum length) and reel may be used at any one time. Baits or lures on two separate rods in the water at the same time are not allowed. All bass must be caught alive and in a conventional sporting manner. When sight fishing, to have a bass counted as a legal catch, all fish must be hooked on the inside of the mouth and verified by partner before being unhooked. No equipment may be used to gain a height advantage for sight fishing that is not a permanent structure of the boat. Trolling is not allowed. A-Rigs are allowed and must be used according to the rules of the lake being fished.

  • PERMITTED FISHING LOCATIONS; Contestants may fish anywhere on tournament waters available to the public and accessible by boat, except areas designated as “off limits” or “no fishing” by local, state, or federal officials or within 50 yards of a competitor's boat that was first anchored (an anchored boat shall consist of a tethered line attached to a weight to hold the boat stable, a Power-Pole or Talon deployed and trolling motor in the stowed position).  *All fishing must be conducted from the boat. At no time may a contestant leave the boat to land a fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters*. 

  • Contestants must leave and return to the official checkpoint by boat. In the event of equipment failure or an emergency, the tournament Director must be notified as soon as it is safe to do so. There will be only two methods of returning to the check in point; both partners remaining in their boat and being towed by water, or by one partner entering the boat of a fellow competitor with their catch clearly marked. Under these two conditions the contestants catch will be weighed and counted. MECHANICAL FAILURE DOES NOT EXTEND YOUR CHECK IN TIME. Contestants that return to the official check-in by any other method will forfeit their days catch to that point and time.

  • OFFFICIAL CHECKPOINT; There will be only one official checkpoint for boat inspection in the morning. Failure to go through morning boat check or to report to check-in point at designated time will result in penalties or disqualification. All fishing will cease upon check-in.

  • LATE PENALTY; Contestants who are not at the official check-in area at the appointed time will be penalized 1 pound per minute deducted from their total weight including any weight to be counted toward the Big Bass award. Any contestant more than 15 minutes late will be disqualified for that day.

  • SCORING; Scoring will be determined by pounds and ounces of each team's catch. Only largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and redeye bass will be weighed. No regurgitated forage or other foreign matter may be placed in a bass. The limit will be 5 fish (unless local or state rules prohibit) measured on a Golden Rule with mouth closed. At no time shall a team possess more than a tournament limit. Upon landing a 6th fish, the team must cull to stay within a tournament limit. If a team brings more than a limit of fish to the weigh in, the largest fish will be culled first until the prescribed limit is met. A penalty of 8 ounces per dead fish will be deducted. If the team's Big Bass is dead, 8oz will be deducted from the Big Bass weight. Bass presented for weighin that fail to measure the prescribed length limit, will be thrown out and the team penalized at the rate of 1 pound for each non- legal bass presented. Each team shall weigh their fish in a provided official ITT weigh-in bag.

  • POINT SYSTEM; Points will be awarded as follows: 1st place receives 100 points; 2nd place receives 99 points and so on until all teams weighing fish receive points. If a team weighs no fish, then they will receive 10 less points than the last team weighing fish. Disqualification will yield zero points for the day/ event.

  • TIEBREAKERS; Ties for events will be broken using the following criteria. If the tie is not broken by applying these procedures, prize money will be split evenly, and points awarded accordingly.

  • Greatest number of fish weighed.

      Greatest number of live fish weighed.

      Most weight on current point standings.

      First event, a coin toss will decide.

  • POLYGRAPH; Each contestant agrees to submit, by their signature on the official tournament entry form, to a polygraph examination and abide by its conclusion. Failure to take, or failure to pass the examination will result in disqualification.

  • INSURANCE; Liability insurance is required on all boats at a minimum of $100,000.

  • Payouts; Payouts posted on the website and for Classic are based on a 50-boat field. Ranger Cup requires a 60-boat field and payouts are dependent on the year of your boat for all 12 qualify events. See Ranger Cup Payouts at 

  • For any Questions Please call Sean on his cell 618-521-6293. We always enjoying hearing from you.

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