Official Tournament Rules and Regulations
The Lowcountry Open is a combined INSHORE, OFFSHORE, and KINGFISH fishing tournament being held on June 8, 2024
The Following are 2023’s Rules and Regulations. An updated version will be released before registration opens in March 2024.
Rules and Regulations:
Registration: Early Boat Entry Fee (before 5/18/2023) is $500 per boat for the Offshore Division, $300 per boat for Kingfish Division, and $100 for the Inshore Division. Boats are permitted and encouraged to fish more than one Division, but must pay the entry fee and TWT buy-ins for each division to be eligible for respective prize winnings. Charter boats are permitted to fish with multiple anglers, limited to 6 anglers per charter boat. Any entry fee paid with a dishonored check or credit card automatically voids boat entry. The Lowcountry Open Boat Entry Fee goes up $25 after May 18, 2023.
The Lowcountry Open operating retention is 10% of monies paid into boat-entry or TWT buy-ins, and respective purse payouts are 90% of net expenses incurred by the tournament.
Captain’s Meeting and Registration: The Captain’s meeting and registration event is scheduled for Thursday, June 8, 2023 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm at The Scottish Rite Center 1051 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC 29407. Each boat should have a representative attend the captain’s meeting, and each boat receives a Captain’s Bucket with tournament promotional gear inside. Tournament rule changes may be made by the tournament officials at any time throughout the captain’s meeting. It is the responsibility of all participants to familiarize and abide by all rules and regulations of this tournament.
Fishing Tournament Dates & Time Slots: FISH DAY – June 10, 2022. Weather day – June 11, 2023. Saturday June 10, 2023, at 3:00am boats may depart respective designated port’s within SC, NC and GA public waters only. Lines, teasers and lures permitted in water no earlier than 6:30 am. No lines-out enforced. The same time slots apply if weather day is activated. Weigh-station info (see below) open from 3:00pm – 6:00pm. **tournament officials reserve the right to extend tournament to another date due to extreme inclement weather conditions**
Ports & Boundaries (Fish Radius): Boats must depart from SC, NC or GA public waters only. Private waters or private saltwater ponds are ineligible. All fish must also be hooked within the following State’s public accessible waters: South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Teams are responsible for every angler on the boat properly licensed. Know the limits of your boat and crew, and every boat must meet the weigh-station open/close times to weigh qualifying species.
Tackle & Angling Requirements: IGFA angling & tackle rules are strongly encouraged. All fish must be caught on a fishing rod and reel with a hook and line by any conventional method and must be done within a boating vessel. For anglers targeting species in the Offshore Division, J-hooks are permitted on natural and artificial lures. Trolling, chunking, jigging, casting, kite fishing and live baiting are permitted. No limits on lines, lures, or teasers. participants.
Federal & State Regulations: No boat is allowed to weigh more than 1 fish of the same species at the weigh-station for standard boat-entry or standard TWT eligible species. However, 1 extra species per Bullseye Bonus TWT buy-ins may weigh. Each boat and team member must obtain all required federal and state licenses before fishing in tournament. A Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit is required to fish for the tourney-eligible tuna as follows: bluefin, bigeye, albacore, yellowfin or skipjack (see stripes on belly). Blackfin do not require HMS permits. Bonita and False Albacore (Little Tunny – see spots on belly) are NOT eligible tournament species. Check current federal regulations by phone at 1-888-USA-TUNA (1-888-872-8862) or https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.
Catch and Release Affidavits & Committee Boats: The Lowcountry Open official tournament VHF channel is 65!
Passing Fish to another Vessel: Passing a fish to another vessel is permitted only due to mechanical breakdown. Fish must be accompanied by a signed catch report and confirmed with committee boats on VHF channel 65 at time of transfer.
Weigh-Stations: Manage your travel time! All release affidavits and tournament species must be weighed at Ripley Light Yacht Club (RLYC) between 3pm – 6pm, or confirmed by the check-in boat by 6pm. All qualifying Kingfish and Offshore fish must arrive to weigh-station by boat. No exceptions. Boats must be visible by weigh-masters or check-in boat by 6:00pm. Boats shall contact tournament officials via VHF channel 65 or LCO weighmaster’s phone number 571-969-8322. No mutilated fish will be weighed. Fish shall be accompanied by a catch report, and the boat agent or angler is required to sign the finalized catch report upon completion of weigh-in. At which point, your team has approved the official weight of your catch as final. Fish are subject to examination by tournament officials.
Tie Breaker: In the event of a tie for any tournament species weighed or caught and released, the first weighed fish of its species or earliest Catch and Release Affidavit returned to the weigh-station will be the winner. Weigh-station time limitations strictly enforced (above).
Protests & Polygraph: Protests require a $500 nonrefundable protest fee, and must be submitted within one hour after the published closing time of weigh-stations. Tournament officials reserve the right to request a polygraph test of any and all winning teams or anglers. Protested payouts will be deferred until a resolution is determined.
Responsible Seamanship: Boat captains, crews, anglers and any other members on a vessel enter this tournament at their own risk. Captains, crews, and anglers must make their own judgments whether to fish under the prevailing weather conditions based on the size and seaworthiness of their boat, their Seamanship skills and any other relevant factors known.
Disclaimer: It is expressly understood that all registered boat captains, anglers, crew and any other person herein are known as participants in The Lowcountry Open, herein known as the tournament, do so at their own risk and judgment. The participants hereby indemnify and agree to hold harmless, the tournament and its respective officers, directors, employees, volunteers, agents, sponsors, partners, members, and/or attorneys (collectively the “tournament parties”) from and against any and all claims that arise from, or in connection with, any negligent act or omission of the tournament indemnified parties. All persons connected directly or indirectly with the operation of the tournament, whether individual, limited liability company or corporation, shall have no liability whatsoever for any special, incidental, consequential, punitive, exemplary and/or any other damage including without limitation, any damages arising from libel, slander, loss, damage, negligence, harm, injury or death. The tournament officials reserve the right to refuse entry to any boat team or person. Participants specifically agree and consent to the use of any photography in which they appear, or audio recording, by the tournament for any purpose whatsoever, including but not limited to, resale, advertising and promotional material without compensation or restriction of any kind.
Tournament Payout: All prize money will be distributed within 15 days of the Tournament’s conclusion provided there are no outstanding appeals, disputes or errors. While our intent is to submit winning payments within 2 business days or less upon tournament conclusion, we first want to ensure the utmost accuracy with regard to winners and prize money is met. Payouts will be made payable to the authorized agent or entity so indicated on the boat entry form and/or W-9. W-9 must be received by the tournament officials to receive payout.
Credit card transaction fee: credit card transactions require a 4% transaction fee on the amount charged.
General entry information
Basic Entry Registration: Basic entry fee is required to fish the tournament, and entry fee is on a per-boat basis. Heaviest fish from the Atlantic or its inshore tributaries caught during the tournament wins! Heaviest fish shall include qualifying tuna, wahoo, dolphin, king mackerel, No other species is permitted at weigh-station.
Tournament Purse: The “Tournament Purse” originates from 1) entry fees paid and 2) TWT buy-ins paid. Only one boat must enter, pay basic entry fee and attempt to fish to be considered a tournament. If no fish are caught during the tournament, and subsequent tournament dates not activated, the purse will be refunded to registrants. The Lowcountry Open operating retention is 10% of monies paid into boat-entry or TWT buy-ins, and respective purse payouts are 90% of net expenses incurred by the tournament.
Distribution of Purse: Allocations of purse will be distributed to the registered agent’s name, address and signee of the boat registration form and at discretion of boat agent. Winning payout qualifications as directed below:
Inshore Rules and Format
Inshore species must be caught in open navigational waters and estuaries. Inshore fish are not permitted to be caught from impoundments, salt ponds with dams or dykes, neighborhood lakes or areas with manmade restrictions to boat traffic.
1) Eligible Fish: Inshore Species Sea Trout, Sheepshead, Redfish, and Flounder
2) Fishing Begins at 6:30am. No Lines in the water before that time.
3) No more than 6 lines Per boat. All fish must be caught on rod and reel, no wire lines.
4) Once fishing lines have been deployed, you cannot pass any items to another boat, except in emergency situations.
5) Only one grand prize per boat/species
6) The tournament is a no-kill format. Anglers can choose to harvest a legal fish. There will be no weigh in required, however, we can do a courtesy weigh in.
7) Angler Scorecards are submitted via email to email@example.com by 3pm on Saturday June 10th. (See Angler Scorecard for submission details)
7) All decisions made by the tournament rules committee are final. Any protest must be submitted in writing with applicable protest fee to the tournament director within 30 minutes of the last boat weigh in.
8) All SCDNR Rules and regulations must be followed. Each Captain is responsible for their own crew and conduct.
Min Size: Trout 14”, Redfish 15” – 23”, Sheepshead 14”, Flounder 15”
Point Values: Trout -100, Redfish – 200, Sheepshead -200, Flounder – 200 Bonus points – 3 species caught – 150, 4 species caught -250
Anglers will be given a scorecard with a number designated to their boat/team. Pictures must be provided for each catch.
Pictures are required to be of the catch, flat on a ruler. In the event of a tie, the length of the catches will be added to determine placement. The aggregate number, in inches, for all species caught by the team that day will break the tie. All placement and verification decisions will be made by the LCO Committee and are final.
All Inshore Division Captains must submit a picture of their scorecard to Info@thelowcountryopen.com by 3pm on June 10, 2023. The top 5 teams will be notified and asked to submit their photos. Alternatively, captains can go ahead and attach all verification photos in the first email. All scorecard verification photos requested by the committee must be submitted by 6pm on June 10th, or the scorecard will be disqualified. In the event of a disqualification, the team with the next highest score will move up to be verified.
Species Winner Offshore/Nearshore for Entry Fees and TWT Buy-ins: This is a Big Fish tournament format applied equally to both boat registration payouts and TWT buy-in payouts. In order to win the published payout as “Species Winner” (e.g. Dolphin Winner, King Mackerel Winner, etc.) for either Offshore or Nearshore divisional species, you must weigh the top 3/5 heaviest fish to be the winner. There are only 3 species per division eligible for species winner payout. The heaviest winning species may be as follows: (1) winner per Dolphin, (1) per Wahoo and (1) per Tuna; (3) winners per king mackerel in boat entry, (5) kingfish winners per Fighting for Blue Bonus. Any boat winning the Species Winner may also win the Division Aggregate Winner for their registered division. All winning teams are subject to polygraph testing.
Bullseye Bonus TWT for Offshore and Kingfish: Each division will have an optional TWT buy-in for a fun cash bonus. Each division will have a targeted tournament species, and the target weight for each respective species will be determined at the Captain’s Meeting. The closest over/under to the target weight wins a shared payout with our charity, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. All registered tournament boats automatically qualify if 1) Paid your boat entry fees for respective division(s), 2) you must pay/enter the respective Bullseye Bonus TWT buy-in per registered division, 3) you weigh at least one division-targeted, Bullseye Bonus species at the weigh-station. Offshore and Kingfish boats may weigh 1 extra Bullseye Bonus species to win. If no Bullseye Bonus winners declared, those monies defer to respective species winning categories per division.
Deferment of Offshore Species Winner for Entry Fees and TWT: If no tuna is weighed within regulations, its ENTRY/TWT monies defer to the heaviest dolphin and wahoo winners, split equally 50/50. If no wahoo is weighed within regulation, its ENTRY/TWT defers to heaviest dolphin and tuna winners, split equally 50/50. If no dolphin is weighed within regulations, its ENTRY/TWT defers to the heaviest wahoo and tuna winners, split equally 50/50. If the Offshore Division has no species weighed within regulation, the combined net ENTRY/TWT monies will be refunded. * 92% of the net (administrative expenses) Offshore ENTRY/TWT monies will be paid out unless otherwise specified.
Deferment of Nearshore Species Winner for Entry Fees and TWT: If no kingfish are weighed within regulations, the combined net ENTRY/TWT monies will be refunded. * 92% of the net (administrative expenses) Nearshore ENTRY/TWT monies will be paid out unless otherwise specified.
Disqualification: If a winning boat should become disqualified for any regulatory reason within the governing rules, to include polygraph results or tournament committee findings, that boat’s entry fees and TWT monies will be disqualified from tournament payout(s). If the winning heaviest fish in its category is the only fish weighed per division species, and becomes disqualified, that category or species will assume a no-catch status. Boat ENTRY/TWT deferment rules immediately apply.
The Lowcountry Open 2024 is an Inshore, Kingfish, and Offshore tournament in Charleston, SC. The tournament is the lead tournament for The Palmetto Kingfish Tour. Our charity partner is ZERO Prostate Cancer. ZERO raises awareness and provides education about prostate cancer and provides programs that benefit men and their families facing prostate cancer.