Here are some things to consider when throwing an open or invitational bass tournament. First is insurance. Disclaimers are good but check with a local attorney, not a friend but a good old fashion ambulance chaser, and ask him about your concerns. I looked into insurance and it is very expensive. Our bass club is looking into incorperating. This is a big plus, it is way cheaper than insurance and it protects your bass club and most importantly your board members. The only thing is it doesn’t protect the individual that may have caused an accident. Insurance for a bass tournament, depending on the policy does cover each and every member, but like I said it is expensive. The way I see it each bass club member should have his or her own insurance and if they don’t that’s their problem. Incorperation in my opinion is the way to go, of course I like to add a disclaimer just for the added protection.
Next always check with the owners of the marina or boat launch or if it’s a parish or county, or even state launch check with the proper officals to make sure that you can have the bass tournament at that location. Keep in mind if you are throwing the tournament you are responsible for trash and or anything left behind. Make sure you express this to members of your club and have them stick around after the tournament to help with clean up.
I would suggest letting local authorities or your Department of Wildlife and Fisheries know you are having the open bass tournament. For one you can talk to the person that may be out there and having good relations with them can help things go smoothly. The presence of a deputy or a Wildlife agent could also deter the would be cheaters. Most of the time if you talk to them and let them know you are having the tournament and you welcome them there they will be most helpful.
Door prizes are a must in my opinion. I believe most people are happy with a little something. I have seen bass tournaments lose people over the years because of the lack of prizes. Most tournament directors feel a cash pay out is the best thing but believe me that is not so. I have seen open tournaments that has been going on and growing for 15 years but it decreased for the first time on it’s 16th year. The only difference was 1st place. In fact the tournament paid out more but instead of giving away a boat they gave the cash value. It made a difference. People like to win things, winning money is fine but winning a prize for some reason is always better.
Another thing I thought of is to make the tournament fun. If your bass club is throwing a tournament realize that it is not going make anyone rich or give anyone the opportunity to quit their day job. Basically it is not a professional tour so don’t treat it like one. Keep the rules simple, you don’t want the people fishing your tournament to have to hire a lawyer to figure out all the rules.
One last thing, be careful with shotgun blast offs, they are very dangerous. If you can organize your launch and it’s in your best interest to do so, do your blast off in flights. The two most important things you want to keep in mind is Safety and Fun. If you tournament is based on those two things it will be a success.