In order to ensure compliance with Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide COVID-19 emergency mandate (Executive Order N-33-20), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) is encouraging all fishing contest permittees to cancel contests scheduled through April 30, 2020. The Department may notify law enforcement if any fishing contest permittee holds a contest in violation of the Governor’s statewide order.
For more information please see the official CDFW letter to tournament sponsors (PDF).
If you have questions regarding how recent species listings or candidate listings under the California Endangered Species Act may affect fishing contests, please contact Kyle Murphy at (916) 375-5483 or Kyle.Murphy@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, in an effort to gather more data, regulations were established that provided two types of contests, “Event” and “Annual.” An “Event” type contest permit is designed to regulate large fishing contests often run by commercial organizations. The “Annual” type contest permit is designed to gather data from 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) 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(s) 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 Tournament
Within 30 days of the completion of the fishing contest, tournament organizers must also submit fishing contest report. This report assists CDFW in monitoring the effects of tournament fishing pressure on public waters. Contests for black bass can be reported through the black bass online reporting form. All other contests should submit the “Fishing Contest Report Form (FG-776)” listed below.
Reports may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
ATTN: Contest Report
980 Riverside Parkway, Suite 100
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Annual Black Bass Contest Permit Drawing
Every July, 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. If you are planning fishing contests that will offer prizes totaling more than $1,000 in value or attract more than 50 participants, we strongly recommend your attendance. The drawing is also an opportunity for tournament organizers to ask questions and learn new information about the statewide tournament management program.
Fishing Contest Report Summaries