Tournament Rules

2015 Potomac Snakehead Tournament Rules and Regulations


1. Participants and Eligibility:  All tournament participants are required to have a valid Maryland, Virginia, and/or DC fishing license to fish tidal waters of the Potomac River and it’s tributaries wherever it is lawful to fish. There is no age limit, however, anyone under the age of 18 must have parent or guardian sign a release of liability form.  All participants must sign the liability waiver form before participating in the tournament.  Tournament participants must select a designation as a “bow fisherman” or “hook-and-line angler” during the registration process. Teams and/or individuals will not be permitted to participate in both groups.  All participants must also follow all Smallwood State Park rules and regulations. Staff members of and Whackfactor Outdoors Pro-staff are prohibited from entering or participating in the tournament.

***All Team Captains must attend the pre-tournament conference held at 5:00 pm on May 30, 2015 at Smallwood State Park. If a participant has registered as a single participant (without any team members), he/she must attend the pre-tournament conference***

2. Tackle and Equipment:  All fish must be caught in a legal sporting manner. Fish may be harvested using either bowfishing equipment or by rod and reel methods that include fly-fishing. Artificial or legal live bait may also be used. Nets, electro-fishing, fish traps, or float jugs attached to hook and line equipment are prohibited during the tournament. Fishing regulations must be followed at all times according to Maryland DNR regulations pertaining to snakehead fishing.

3. Official Boats:  Tournament officials reserve the right to inspect boats and observe tournament participants while on the tidal Potomac River during tournament hours. Each team is required to comply with all requests. All boats must have the appropriate Coast Guard approved safety devices as required by law. Maximum horsepower for all outboards used in tournament competition not to exceed the horsepower limitations as set by the U.S. Coast Guard. Maximum load (individuals and gear) not to exceed maximum load set by U.S. coast guard listed on rating plate in boat. If any boat is participating between 15 minutes after sunset and 15 minutes before sunrise, it must have working navigation lights to participate.

4. Fishing:  You may fish from bank or boat as long as you are fishing the tidal Potomac River and its tributaries in areas where it is lawful to fish. Tournament fishing is only allowed in the tidal Potomac River and its tidal tributaries. Participants may launch and fish from any site along the Potomac, as long as they are at Smallwood State Park for weigh-in.  All snakeheads must be killed immediately by cutting the isthmus (gill plate). Maryland DNR will be on hand at the pre-tournament conference to demonstrate the proper technique for dispatching snakeheads. No fish harvested prior to the stated tournament hours may be entered. The Potomac Snakehead Tournament Director and Whackfactor Outdoors LLC reserves the right to disqualify any team that may attempt to weigh fish that were caught prior to the official start of the tournament.  Additionally, fish may not be altered or added to in any way to increase weight.

5. Sportsmanship:  All contestants are expected to follow high standards of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation. Any team who displays poor sportsmanship, violates these rules or any state or local laws or brings unfavorable publicity to the sport will be disqualified.

6. Protest:  All protest must be submitted in writing before the tournament officials close the scales.

7. Individual Scoring for Snakeheads:  Only northern snakeheads will be scored in this category.  There is no limit to how many fish a contestant or team can enter for final weigh in. Any live fish submitted will result in the immediate disqualification of that individual or team. All snakeheads must be dispatched immediately after they are caught. The weigh in will begin at 12:30 pm on May 31st.  All participants are required to report to the weigh station at Smallwood State Park. Any team returning to the weigh station after 12:30 pm will be penalized at the rate of 1 lb. per minute up to 10 minutes. After 10 minutes no weight will be allowed. After the 10 minute grace period, participant will be disqualified.


The Potomac Snakehead Tournament will award cash prizes in two separate categories. The teams will be awarded cash prizes for the heaviest total weight of Snakeheads harvested by bowfishing and a separate first place cash prize will be awarded to the heaviest total of Snakeheads caught by rod and reel methods (including fly-fishing). The rankings will be based on total weight. If two teams have the same weight at the end of the tournament, the prize will be split. Additionally, a cash prize for second place will be awarded for heaviest total of Snakeheads in each category. Remaining cash prizes will depend on the number of entries for the event. A generous raffle will be held for tournament participants and a percentage of tournament profits will be donated to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to help fight invasive species in the Potomac River watershed.

All participants must read and agree to the Tournament Rules and Regulations and sign the Liability Release.


A separate prize for the single heaviest blue catfish will be awarded in two separate categories — Bowfishing and Rod & Reel.
The blue catfish bonus prize will be awarded to an individual (not a team).

Participants interested in registering for the Blue Catfish Bonus prize must complete both of these:

  1. Register for the Potomac Snakehead Tournament on-line in advance or in person at the walk-up registration on May 30, 2014, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  2. Register for the Blue Catfish Bonus Prize in person at the walk-up registration on May 30, 2014, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. (Cash Only).

Participants must select the method of fishing (Bowfishing or Rod & Reel fishing) at the time of registration. Once the method is selected the same method will be applied to the Blue Catfish Bonus Prize.

For example, If you are registered as a bow fisherman, you may only harvest blue catfish using bowfishing methods and equipment. Individuals registered as rod and reel anglers may only use rod and reel techniques and equipment for Blue Catfish Bonus Prize within the Rod & Reel category.

***Please not that if your are participating in the tournament (as part of a team) and you are registering for the Blue Catfish Bonus, your entire team must also register for the Blue Catfish Bonus. ***

The cost to enter this additional blue catfish bonus category will be $10 in addition to the entry fee.

  • Your single blue catfish will be weighed individually during the weigh-in process.
  • All weighed blue catfish and snakeheads must be dead.
  • Since space and time is limited, please weigh only your largest blue catfish (do not bring multiple blue catfish to the scale).
  • The use of nets, jugs, gigs, spear guns, and fish traps is not permitted, additionally, snagging and electro-shocking methods are not permitted.

9. Biggest Fish Contest:  There will be a contest for the single, largest (heaviest) snakehead in the tournament. One single heaviest fish will be selected from each category (bowfishermen and hook-and-line anglers) and the winning team will be awarded a percentage of the remaining combined entry fee pot.

10. Overnight Parking:  Should participants choose to launch at Smallwood State Park and leave their vehicle and trailer overnight, Smallwood requires that an overnight pass be filled out and displayed on dash of vehicle. These can be obtained at the boat ramp.

11. Teams:  Canoes and kayaks may form teams as long as they do not exceed 6 members per team. All watercraft / boats that are powered by gas or electric motors may only enter one boat per team and the team will be limited to 4 members. Multiple boats powered by gas or electric motors entered under one team will not be permitted. Registration will be organized according to the team name.  All team members must use the same method of harvesting snakeheads (either by bow-fishing OR by hook-and-line but not by both methods).

***All Team Captains must attend the pre-tournament conference held at 5:00 pm on May 30st 2015 at Smallwood State Park. If a participant has registered as a single participant (without any team members), he/she must attend the pre-tournament conference***

12. Rain Date: The scheduled rain date is August 15 and 16, 2015.  In the event of inclement weather and/or dangerous fishing conditions, the tournament will be moved to the scheduled rain date. The decision to move the date will be posted 48 hours prior to May 29, 2013. Please check and our facebook page for all tournament updates.

13. Tidal Potomac and license information: Fishing is allowed in all tidal Potomac river waters as defined by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. Every participant must have a legal license for the area in which they are fishing. Although some state (MD and VA) licenses are reciprocal in the tidal Potomac please note a Washington DC license is required if you are fishing in DC waters. Every Participant is responsible for knowing the rules and regulations in whatever waterway they are fishing and for having a legal license for that waterway. Please reference the following link for more information:

The Potomac Snakehead Tournament Director and Whackfactor Outdoors LLC reserves the right to change or modify any rules/regulations.  Any changes and/or amendments to the  rules will be made on-line (listed within this rule section of the website) and discussed at the pre-tournament conference.