Bait Fish (Minnows)

Michigan Minnows Commonly Used As Bait

Some of these baitfish are known to be carriers of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS). VHS kills sport fish. Please check the Michigan Fishing Guide for regulations on baitfish.

Graphic of alewife
Scientific Name: Alosa pseudoharengus
Common Name: Alewife
Color: Silvery-Green
Markings: Characteristic black spot located behind the eye. Scales that line up in a row along the belly give it a sawtooth appearance.
Length: 6-7 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Bluntnose Minnow
Graphic of bluntnose minnow
Scientific Name: Pimephales notatus
Common Name: Bluntnose Minnows
Color: Olive green on back, silvery on bottom
Markings: Black horizontal stripe on side and black spot on tail.
Length: 2-3 inches
Susceptible to VHS: Yes

Creek Chub
Graphic of creek chub
Scientific Name: Semotilus atromaculatas
Common Name: Creek Chub
Color: Purple and bronze sheen on sides
Markings: Dark spot at the base of the dorsal (back) fin. Tubercles on head and snout.
Length: 6-12 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Emerald Shiner
Graphic of emerald shiner
Scientific Name: Notropis atherinoides
Common Name: Blues
Color: Silver with green iridescence.
Markings: Very short snout and large eyes.
Length: 3-4 inches
Susceptible to VHS: Yes

Fathead Minnow
Graphic of fathead minnow
Scientific Name: Pimephales promelas
Common Name: Rosey-reds (color variation)
Color: Olive-gray.
Markings: White on belly, diffuse dark blotch on dorsal fin, head is almost black on males during breeding.
Length: 2-3 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Golden Shiner
Graphic of golden shiner
Scientific Name: Notemigonus crysoleucas
Common Name: Golden Shiner
Color: Adults are gold or brassy with red fins.
Markings: A lateral line runs along their sides and dips down in the middle of their body.
Length: 5-7 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Rainbow Smelt
Graphic of rainbow smelt
Scientific Name: Osmerus mordax
Common Name: Smelt
Color: Silvery with a pale green back and iridescent purple, blue and pink on sides.
Markings: Adipose fin present near tail.
Length: 7-9 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Sand Shiner
Graphic of sand shiner
Scientific Name: Notropis stramineus
Common Name: Sand Shiner
Color: Back, light olive, sides are silvery, underside is white.
Markings: Large eyes. Lateral line bordered by small dots. Body scales bordered by black gives a cross-hatched appearance.
Length: 2-3 inches
Susceptible to VHS: No

Spottail Shiner
Graphic of spottail shiner
Scientific Name: Notropis hudsonius
Common Name: Greys
Color: Silver sides with greenish blue back
Markings: Prominent dark spot on their tails.
Length: 3-4 inches
Susceptible to VHS: Yes

White Sucker
Graphic of white sucker
Scientific Name: Catostomus commersoni
Common Name: Pike Minnows
Color: Dark brown back, cream belly.
Markings: Sucking mouth with no barbels, coarser scales and long anal fin.
Length: 12-20 inches, 4-6 inches is common bait size.
Susceptible to VHS: Yes

Fish images originally prepared by Ellen Edmonson and Hugh Chrisp as part of the 1927 - 1940 New York Biological Survey, courtesy of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Bluntnose minnow, emerald shiner, spottail shiner, alewife illustrations by Joseph R. Tomelleri. Fathead minnow illustration by Duane Raver, USFWS.