Commercial Bait Licensing

Three commercial bait licenses are available in Michigan. A retail bait dealer's license allows a store to sell live minnows and wigglers directly to the public. A wholesale bait dealer's license allows a business to deliver and sell bait to licensed retail outlets around the state. A wholesale license also allows for the sale or transfer of bait between wholesalers. If someone has a retail or wholesale license, they can then purchase a catcher's license which allows them to catch bait in addition to selling it. There are approximately 600 retailers, 40 wholesalers and 75 commercial catchers licensed annually in the state although the numbers do vary one year to the next. Additionally, the number of persons that actually report harvesting bait each year is less than the 75 licensed. In reality, there are about 15 or so harvesters and wholesalers providing most of the state's retail bait supply.

On a side note there are an additional 10 non-resident wholesalers licensed in Michigan to import minnows and wigglers (it is illegal to import crayfish for commercial/bait purposes) from other states. These companies grow, harvest or purchase wigglers and minnows out of state, usually fatheads and golden shiners, drive to Michigan, and deliver them to retails outlets around the state. In recent years, licensed non-resident wholesalers have hailed from Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Any person interested in obtaining a Retail Minnow Dealer's License, a Wholesale Minnow Dealers License, or a Commercial Minnow Catcher's License should contact the Michigan DNR at 517-284-6045.

commercial catcher and wholesaler standing in front of truck
A commercial catcher and wholesaler from "Jeff's Bait"