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Heartland Trails, LLC. Official Rules for the 2024 Season

Heartland Trails: 2024 SEASON - OFFICIAL RULES

ELIGIBILITY: All individuals, 18 years of age or older with a paid entry fee and a current paid membership to Heartland Trails is eligible to fish. A parent or legal guardian must accompany anyone under 18 years of age. Heartland Team trail may consist of two (2) anglers per boat or one (1) anglers per boat. Heartland Elites will consist of (1) angler per boat.  Heartland Trails reserves the right to reject any entry that is not in the best interest of the tournament.


MEMBERSHIP FEE / ENTRY FEE: There will be an annual membership fee of $30.00 per angler for the 2024 season. Membership fee expires after the 2024 Season. Entry fee is $200.00 per team in the Team events and $160 entry in the Elite Events. Entries will be accepted by mail, over the phone, or may be paid at the ramp the morning of each tournament. Take off positions are determined by order of deposit/paid entry. Paid entry fees or deposits may be transferred with Heartland Trails approval. No refunds.


BIG BASS: $20 from each entry fee will go towards the Big Bass payout. There will be three (3) Big Bass places paid at each qualifying tournament, with 50% of the pot going to 1st place Big Bass and 30% of the pot going to 2nd place Big Bass and 3rd big bass 20%. (Example Big Bass payout on a 50 boat field: 1st: $500 - 2nd: $300 –3rd: $200)


PAYBACK: Heartland Trails will pay back one (1) place for every six (6) teams entered at all qualifying tournaments.


CHECK-IN and PRE-MEETING: One team member must check in the morning of the tournament. A pre-meeting will take place on the water approximately five (5) minutes prior to the official start time. Idle by live well checks will take place at any time either on or off the water.


POINTS: Each team will receive 20 show up points. Points will start at 200 for 1st place and descend 1 point for each place dropped.


POINTS CHAMPION: Points champion(s) will be based on points from the 4 regular season tournaments.

HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THE 2024 HEARTLAND INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The top 40% of all teams in points will qualify for the 2024 Heartland Championship. A TEAM OR ELITE ANGLER CAN AUTOMATICALY QUALIFY IF YOU FISH 3 OF THE 5 TOURNAMENTS. Boat numbers at the Heartland Championships will be determined by a computer generated random draw.


PARTICIPATION and ALTERNATES (TEAM TRAIL): Each team will be allowed to use one alternate or fish solo in the team trail. You cannot use an alternate for the 2024 Heartland Trails Championship. With Director's approval, you could fish with another qualified angler in the championship.


SCORING / CULLING: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Meanmouth, & Kentucky (spotted) bass will be scored. There will be a five (5) fish limit at all lakes. A short fish will result in a one (1) pound penalty plus the loss of the fish. A dead fish will result in a one (1) pound penalty per fish. Dead fish cannot be weighed in for Big Bass. No more than five (5) fish are allowed in a live well at any time, unless it is during the culling process. Anyone bringing more than five (5) fish to the bump tub will not be allowed to weigh in any fish. Culling of dead bass is prohibited. Heartland Uses The Golden Rule Ruler to measure.


TIES: (Tie for Overall Results): All ties will be broken in this order; 1) Big Bass, 2) Most Fish Weighed In, 3) Earliest Entry Into Tournament. (Tie for Big Bass): All ties will be broken in this order; 1) Total Weight, 2) Earliest Entry Into Tournament. (Tie for Standings): All ties will be broken in this order; 1) Total Accumulated Weight, 2) Big Bass.


SAFETY and SPORTSMANSHIP: Safe boating must be observed at all times. Life jackets and kill switches must be used any time the combustion motor is running above an idle. All contestants are required to follow the highest degree of sportsmanship, courtesy, and conservation. At the discretion of the Tournament Director, tournament days may be shortened or cancelled due to unsafe weather or water conditions. No alcohol or controlled substance can be used or allowed in the boat during tournament hours. Contestants must leave and return to official checkpoint by boat. No tournament boat may be loaded on the trailer before weigh-in except with the permission of the Tournament Director.


LATE PENALTY: Anglers must check-in to the designated check-in site by official designated time. Failure to do so will result in a one pound penalty per minute late, up to ten (10) minutes, then disqualification.


TACKLE and EQUIPMENT: Only artificial lures and baits may be used. All bass must be caught alive on a rod and reel. Only one rod and reel is allowed to be used at any time by any one angler. Snagging bass off of spawning beds is prohibited. All bass caught off of spawning beds must be hooked inside the mouth. Alabama Rigs are allowed max of 3 hooked baits.


BOATS and MOTORS: Any boat, 14 feet or longer, meeting B.I.A. and Coast Guard requirements with a functional kill switch and functional bilge pump and properly aerated live well will be accepted. No over-powered boats.


LOCATIONS: Fishing is permitted anywhere on the tournament waters available to the public and accessible by boat, except areas designated as “off limits” or “no fishing” by the Corp of Engineers, local, state, or federal officials. You cannot fish within 50 yards of a contestant's anchored boat with trolling motor up, without their approval. Contestants may not depart the boat to land fish or to make the boat more accessible to fishing waters. Any additional off limits will be announced at the pre-meeting prior to take-off. There are no off-limit days.


INSURANCE: Boat owners must have at least $100,000 of Boating Liability Insurance. Proof of insurance may be asked for at any time and may be a question on the polygraph and/or cvsa exam.


SPECIAL SITUATIONS: Breakdown: In the event of a boat breakdown, the team may transfer their fish to another contestant’s boat for transport to the weigh-in site, meeting the following conditions; The fish must be placed in a segregated live-well. One member of the breakdown team must accompany those fish at all times to the weigh-in site. The team broken down must stop fishing from the time of transfer.

Early Departure: Any team departing prior to weigh in from the tournament lake, must contact the tournament director or appointed staff member. Failure to do so may result in the loss of any points earned at that tournament.

Assistance/Cell Phones: During official hours of competition, contestants may not purchase, barter, give, or request information on locating or catching fish to/ from anyone other than their team member they are fishing with that day. Contestants may not participate in the practice of “hole-sitting.” The use of mobile communication devices such as cellular phones, marine radios, walkie-talkies, CBs, etc. to communicate fishing information during tournament hours is strictly prohibited. We encourage all contestants to have a cell phone in their boat for emergency use.

Baiting Holes/Brushpiles: Any contestant KNOWINGLY baiting a specific hole/brush pile prior to fishing an Heartland Trails Tournament, or KNOWINGLY having an outside source bait a specific hole/brush pile prior to fishing an Heartland tournament, to gain an edge on the competition day, may face disqualification from that event and any future Heartland Trails Events.


PROTEST: All protests must be submitted in writing to the Tournament Director within (10) minutes of the official closing of the scales. The appointed Tournament Advisory Board will handle all protests. The decision of the Tournament Director shall be final in all matters.


ATTENTION: By contestant(s) signature on an entry form and/or participation in any Heartland Trails, LLC. event, contestant(s) agree that they have read all tournament rules and liability release below, and agree to abide by all rules, regulations, releases and tournament official’s decisions. The following participant agreement, waiver and release covers all Heartland Trails, LLC Tournaments. In addition, I acknowledge that I have read, understand, and accept all the rules related to the tournament(s) and waive and release Heartland Trails, LLC and Heartland Outdoor Group, LLC as well  all other contestants, sponsors and their agents, all tournament officials, all weigh-in stations (including their property, staff, owners, and employees, from any and all claims of personal injuries, accidents, or death that may occur either on or off the water, as well as, any damaged, lost, or stolen property incurred in connection with a Heartland Trails LLC. Heartland Outdoor Group LLC, or any tournament hosted or ran by Heartland Trails, LLC. I understand that boat and liability insurance are my responsibility. By including my email address on the entry form I am agreeing to opt in to receiving information from Heartland Trails, LLC. I hereby grant permission to Heartland Trails, LLC., sponsors and their agents; and all tournament officials the right to publicize, video tape, photograph and /or broadcast my name, character, likeness or voice and the fact that I was a participant and/or winner, and all other matters incidental thereto. I agree that I am not entitled to receive any royalties or other compensation in connection with such use. If I place for any prize I understand that I am responsible for paying all local, state and federal taxes, title, license and registration as a result of my participation in any event ran by Heartland Trails, LLC. I agree that any contestant, if absent from signing an entry form, understands all statements, rules and regulations and has given the signee the express permission to sign on his/her behalf. Contestant ratifies and approves entry in the event(s) made on his/her behalf by another and agrees thereby to be bound by all the rules of the tournament(s) by signature and/or participation in the tournament(s). My signature on an entry form and/or participation in any Heartland Trails, LLC. event reflects that I have read this entire document, understand it completely, understand it affects my legal rights, and agree to be bound by its terms. KNOWLEDGE OF THESE RULES IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH CONTESTANT: Failure to read these rules or ignorance of them is no excuse. The Director reserves the right to reject any entry if he feels that it is not in the best interest of the Heartland Trails Tournament. Any announcements made by the Director at the tournament site take precedent over written rules. Failure of a polygraph and/or cvsa exam in any Heartland tournament or failure of a polygraph and/or cvsa exam in any other fishing tournament not related to Heartland Trails may result in disqualification from any and all future Heartland Trails tournaments. The decision of the Tournament Director shall be final in all matters.

To preserve the integrity of the Heartland Trails Tournaments and our anglers, any contestant receiving a prize may be subject to a polygraph and/or cvsa exam prior to receiving a prize at each event. Contestants must pass the polygraph and/or cvsa exam at the tournament site to receive prize money, awards, and points for the event. The refusal of any winner to voluntarily submit to a polygraph and/or cvsa exam automatically disqualifies any winner from being eligible to receive any prize money, awards, points for the event, and any other offered prize and/or award. All decisions regarding compliance with Heartland Trails rules and the interpretation of these rules shall be made by the Tournament Director(s) at his/her sole and absolute discretion and the Tournament Director(s) reserve the right to make additional reasonable rules for the conduct of its tournaments if circumstances require. The Tournament Director(s) shall have the sole and absolute right to refuse any application or deny a confirmed application by returning the entry fee of a previously accepted application or disqualifying a contestant. Any contestant knowingly violating Heartland Trails rule may face disqualification from any & all future tournaments.


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