Bass Club: What It Takes To Start A Bass Club

Eric Prey

So you and your buddies have looked around and can’t find a bass club that meets your needs - maybe your work schedule doesn’t allow for weekends off, you all want to fish night tournaments, or for whatever reason you can’t find a club that fits. Before you dive in and start your own club, let’s take a look at what you will need as a bare minimum to start a new club. Beyond thoughts of joining a national association, advertising, sponsorships, websites and other external concerns, let’s look at what it will take to set up and run a small club at work or at the local Elk’s lodge.

The first concern is membership - who will you allow to join your club and in turn fish your tournaments? If your club is based at work or at the previously mentioned Elk’s lodge you will likely restrict membership to co-workers or lodge members. But, if your club is just a group of buddies that like to fish together, you may open membership to any like-minded anglers in your area. Once you have determined who your members are going to be and you have built your club roster, you will need to have a club meeting and determine your club officers, by-laws and tournament rules. At a minimum, your club’s officers should include a President, Vice–President, Treasurer, Secretary and a Tournament Committee. There are several resources for club rules and by-laws including B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and FLW’s The Bass Federation associations, as well as many individual club websites. In upcoming articles, we will delve deeper into setting up rules and by-laws for your club, but for now we will move on.

Your next concern is the equipment needed to run your club’s tournaments. Minimum requirements include a quality scale, bump tank, measuring board, weigh-in bags, weigh-in basket, a table or stand (for your scale), some form of recordkeeping and at least three people to run the weigh-in. A scale is going to be your club’s first big expense - a quality scale designed for weigh-in use is essential to the honesty and integrity of your club. While new ones can range from $350-500, a quality used scale can be found for around $100-200 in tackle stores, as well as on e-Bay and other websites. A bump tank and measuring board are your next expenses; most clubs opt for a plastic laundry-room sink with removable legs and simply attach the measuring board inside the sink. Weigh-in bags are easy to come by at most tackle stores, a weigh-in basket to place on your scale can be as simple as a laundry basket, and you can use a card table as a stand for your scale. Records of weights, numbers of fish, big bass, etc. are essential for the overall standings in your bass club. Some form of record for each angler’s catches needs to be kept. Whether it is a spiral notebook or individual weigh-in slips, accurate records are a must. Your tournament staff will need to consist of a Weigh Master to run the weigh-in and weigh fish, a Measurer to measure fish and assess penalties for dead and short fish and a Scribe to keep track of the weights and penalties for each angler. These positions are usually filled by the tournament committee members or officers of the club.

The next major concern when setting up your club is insurance and limiting the liability of your club, its members and officers if an accident or tragedy should happen. While there are several ways to limit your liability, most clubs require their members to sign a liability waiver and require minimum insurance and liability coverage for all of their members using a boat in club tournaments and activities. Even though this is the most common method of limiting liability, it may not be the best option for your club. Before making any final decisions on liability, clubs should seek legal counsel.

Finally, your club will need some form of record keeping. Accurate records of tournament results, year-to-date standings and accounting of all monies taken in and paid out over the year are essential to a successful club. While it would be easy to allow your club secretary to choose a method they are comfortable with, the record keeping needs to be clear to anyone that may take over that position in the future. Some clubs simply use ledgers and paper record keeping while others will opt for elaborate computer programs - most fall somewhere in between. Whatever your club decides upon, it should be easy to use and open to all members for review.

Forming a bass club can be a lot of hard work but clubs are the backbone of the bass fishing world. The friendships formed within bass clubs are ones that can last a lifetime, and the fellowship that takes place at club events is second to none. As a member of the greater fishing community, Bass Edge realizes its responsibility to foster and improve the state of bass fishing. With that in mind, Bass Edge offers this resource to help build and improve clubs across the country and around the world.

Eric Prey is a Professional Angler and Coast Guard Licensed Fishing Guide. Annually Eric competes in over 30 Regional Tournaments, conducts over 150 guided fishing trips and writes over twenty published fishing articles. His knowledge of both techniques and technology make him a trusted source of information regarding fishing techniques and marine electronics.

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