Laws Pertaining to Bait Dealers/Use of Live Bait
List of Waters Where it is Illegal to Store Live Bait PDF
Licenses expire on December 31st of the calendar year for which they were issued.
Bait Retail License - $16.00: This license permits the sale only of live baitfish and live smelts from one location.
Bait Wholesale License - $26.00: This license permits the taking from the wild, wholesale and retail sale of live baitfish only. Does not include smelts.
Smelt Wholesale License - $71.00: This license permits the taking from the wild, wholesale and retail sale of live smelts only.
Note: If you plan to sell baitfish or smelts from more than one location, each additional location must be licensed by a Live Bait Retailer's license.
Live Bait Restrictions. The following are legal baitfish for fishing: Smelt, Lake chub, Eastern silvery minnow, Golden shiner, Emerald shiner, Bridle shiner, Common shiner, Blacknose shiner, Spottail shiner, Northern redbelly dace, Finescale dace, Fathead minnow, Blacknose dace, Longnose dace, Creek chub, Fallfish, Pearl dace, Banded killifish, Mummichog, Longnose sucker, White sucker, Creek chubsucker, and American eel. Any species of fish not listed above may not be used as bait for fishing in inland waters.
Bait Dealer’s License. It is unlawful for any person to deal in live baitfish or live smelts without first obtaining a valid bait dealer's license. (Exception: A person may take live bait for their own use, by the use of hook and line or bait trap only, if that person holds a valid fishing license).
Permit to take bait from closed waters. Any person (except licensed bait dealers who receive a permit upon issuance of a bait dealer's license) who wishes to take live baitfish from inland waters which are not currently open to fishing must first obtain a written permit from this Department. There is no charge for this permit. (NOTE: No permit is required to take baitfish from inland waters during the open fishing season on those waters).
Marking and checking baitfish traps. All baitfish traps and baitfish holding boxes must be marked with the name and address of the person who is taking or holding the baitfish, and must be checked at least once in every 7 calendar days by the person who set them.
Marking holes. When using drop nets to fish through the ice for baitfish/smelts, all holes made in the ice must be marked either with evergreen boughs placed around the hole, or by suspending at least 1 strand of fluorescent biodegradable tape at least 3 feet above the ice around the entire perimeter of the hole so that the tape is visible from all sides.
Storing live bait. It is illegal to store live bait in any water where the use or possession of live bait is prohibited during either the entire ice fishing season or the entire open water fishing season. This includes waters restricted to the use of artificial lures only during the ice fishing season and waters restricted to fly fishing only or artificial lures only during the open water fishing season.
List of waters where it is illegal to store or hold live bait at any time PDF.