Laws Pertaining to Bait Dealers/Use of Live Bait

Bait Dealer's Licenses

Checking Baitfish Traps

Importation of Baitfish

List of Waters Where it is Illegal to Store Live Bait (PDF)

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Live Bait Restrictions

Marking and Checking Bait Traps

Marking Holes

Storing Live Bait

Bait Dealer's Licenses

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 Retail License Application

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.

Bait Wholesale License Application

Waters with Special Restrictions Under the Baitfish Wholesale License for 2015 (PDF)

Smelt Wholesale License - $71.00: This license permits the taking from the wild, wholesale and retail sale of live smelts only.

Smelt Wholesale License Application

Waters Open to the Taking of Smelts Under the Smelt Wholesaler's License for 2015 (PDF)

Smelt Wholesaler's License Authorizations and Restrictions (PDF)

Smelt Dealer Report Log (PDF)

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.

Importation of baitfish prohibited. It is unlawful to import into this State any live baitfish or smelts.

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).

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. Live bait may not be stored or held in any waters where the use or possession of live fish as bait is prohibited during the entire ice fishing or the entire open water fishing season. This includes waters restricted to the use of artificial lures only, waters restricted to fly fishing, and where there are other prohibitions on the use of live fish as bait.

List of waters where it is illegal to store or hold live bait at any time PDF.