Fishing Contests, Tournaments and Derbies

CDFW is revising the current fishing contest permitting regulations (Title 14, California Code of Regulations (14 CCR) § 230) to distribute fishing contest permits more efficiently and equitably. Questions regarding this process may be emailed to tournaments@wildlife.ca.gov.

If you have questions regarding how recent species listings or candidate listings under the California Endangered Species Act may affect fishing contests, please contact tournaments@wildlife.ca.gov.

Beginning in 1975, organizers offering prizes or other inducements for the taking of sport fish in any California water were required to obtain a fishing contest permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Since 1985, organizers have been required to submit a “Fishing Contest Report” to CDFW detailing the results of each permitted contest. In 1990, two permit types were established in regulation, “Event” and “Annual”. An “Event” type contest permit regulates large fishing contests often run by commercial organizations. The “Annual” type contest permit designates smaller, organized contests, such as those offered by bass clubs or individuals. Both types of contests are listed as they are entered into the tournament management database, and are available at the following link:

For more specific information about a contest listed, anglers should contact the contest sponsor directly.

Participating in a Fishing Contest

CDFW has a responsibility to approve or deny contest permits, but is not involved in individual angler participation. If you are an angler interested in registering and participating in a fishing contest, you need to contact the sponsor of the contest directly. A good first step is to browse upcoming, approved contests at the Pending and Approved Contests page where you can filter the results by specific locations, dates, sponsors or species. If you find a contest you are interested in, you need to contact the listed sponsor via internet search. CDFW does not provide sponsor contact information since not all contests are open to the public.

If you are new to bass fishing tournaments, please read Keeping Bass Alive (PDF)(opens in new tab) to ensure you are taking all appropriate measures to protect the resource and avoid tournament penalties for weighing dead fish. Good luck and tight lines!

Organizing a Fishing Contest

Tournament organizers must apply for a permit using the “Fishing Contest Application” form provided below. If targeting black bass, the organizer should also review the special conditions for black bass contest permits; these conditions apply to all black bass fishing contests. To request exemption from typical fishing regulations (e.g. a slot limit or minimum length limit), organizers must complete an exemption form specific to that water and submit it with the application. This does not guarantee exemption; approval must be given by CDFW.

Angling Regulation Exemption Forms for Black Bass Tournaments

Annual Black Bass Contest Permit Drawing

Every year, CDFW sponsors two permit drawings for black bass fishing contests to be held the following year, one in northern California and one in southern California. The drawings provide a forum for tournament sponsors to efficiently coordinate their fishing contests for the following year. The drawing is also an opportunity for tournament organizers to ask questions and learn new information about the statewide tournament management program. If you are planning fishing contests that will require an Event type permit, we strongly recommend your attendance.

Reporting

Within 30 days of completion of the fishing contest, all tournament organizers must submit a fishing contest report. This report assists CDFW in monitoring the effects of tournament fishing pressure on public waters.

Black bass reports may be reported online, or you may email or mail Form FG-776 to the addresses below. All other reports may be emailed or mailed to the addresses below.

Black Bass Contest ONLINE Report Form

contestreports@wildlife.ca.gov

ATTN: Contest Report
Fisheries Branch
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Annual Fishing Contest Report Summaries