Michigan's Commercial Bait Industry
Fishing with live bait means different things to different anglers. For some it is taking a son or daughter fishing for bluegill with a bobber and worm. For others it might be fishing through the ice with a minnow tipped jig for walleye. Segmented worms such as earth worms, crawlers, leaches, etc. while popular with the fishing public do not require a license to harvest or sell and are not regulated or tracked by the DNR. As such the DNR does not keep statistics on who harvests or sells segmented worms or how much is sold annually. The commercial collection and sale of minnows, wigglers and crayfish from the wild requires DNR licensing as well as monthly harvest reporting to the department. For the purpose of this website on Michigan's commercial bait industry…
"Bait" refers only to live minnows, wigglers, and crayfish.
"Minnows" refers to shiners, chubs, suckers, dace, stonerollers, muddlers, and mud-minnows.
"Wigglers" refers to mayfly nymphs or any other aquatic insect nymph of larvae.
"Segmented Worms" including earth worms, crawlers, and leaches will not be covered below.
Where can I buy bait in Michigan?
The Bait Shop Locator allows the user to find the location of all retail bait shops licensed to sell minnows, wigglers and crayfish to the general public. The site uses the previous year's license lists (example the 2015 list in 2016) as applications are received throughout the year.
Disclaimer: Not all businesses listed in the "Bait Shop Locator" may be open to the public year round. They also may not have the desired minnows, wigglers or crayfish that a particular angler is looking for. It is recommended that persons looking for a bait shop using the "Bait Shop Locator" contact the location before making a trip, to make sure the shop is open and has bait available.
WHOLESALE: stores that sell live bait in bulk to retail store owners
2015 Wholesale Bait Dealers List
Information about Michigan's Commercial Bait Industry
- Background on Michigan's Commercial Bait Industry
- Commercial Bait Licensing
- The process of Commercial Harvest explained
- Annual Commercial Catch & Value
- The Michigan Bait Dealers Association (MBDA)
- In their own words (commercial bait catchers, wholesalers and retailers)
- Cold weather is a hot time for Great Lakes minnow harvesters
- Industry Response to Aquatic Invasive Species: HACCP
- Links to additional Commercial Bait Regulations/Laws/Applications & Reporting Requirements