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Commercial Bait

State law prohibits minnows, wigglers, and crayfish that are harvested in Michigan from being exported and sold out of state.

Most of Michigan's in-state bait supply is provided by about a dozen large wholesale catchers, however, it is also common for inland bait shops to sometimes have a catcher's license. At certain times of the year, the inland shop will catch smaller amounts of minnows from local creeks, ditches and small streams to supplement the minnows in their shop they purchase from the large wholesalers. Usually the minnows caught by local retailers are different from the emerald and spottail shiners produced in the Great Lakes and provided by the wholesalers. 

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.

  • 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

Retail Bait Shops

Are you going fishing and looking for bait? Use the bait shop locator to find licensed retail bait shops. The site uses the previous year's license lists as applications are received throughout the year.

Not all businesses listed may be open to the public year-round. Please contact the shop you are interested in before making a trip to make sure the it is open and has bait available.

Retail bait shop locator

Licenses and Regulations

Commercial minnow, wriggler and crayfish dealers and catchers must be licensed and must follow regulations governing the taking of bait for commercial purposes. Please note, some waters are also closed for personal taking of minnows.


Wholesale fish retail catcher and wholesale minnow licenses

This application serves many different licenses including fur dealer's license (resident fur manufacturer, non-resident fur manufacturer, fur buyer, fur processor); taxidermy; wholesale fish dealers license; minnow; wiggler and crayfish dealers (retail; resident and non-resident); resident minnow catchers; permit to export bait; and sport trolling license.

Disinfecting eggs with iodophor instructions

Wholesale fish, retail, catcher and wholesale minnow licenses

Contact Info for Certification Process

Applications and questions by regular mail should be sent to:

MI DNR Fisheries Division

ATTN: Fish Disease Certification

P.O. Box 30446, Lansing, MI 48909

Applications or questions by email should be sent to:

Applications or questions by fax should be sent to: 517-373-0381ATTN: Fish Disease Certification

Questions by Phone: 517-284-5830


Licensed commercial minnow, wiggler and crayfish catchers are required to submit monthly reports of their fishing activity. Reports are due by the 10th day of the following for each month the license is valid. Reports are due each month even if nothing was caught.

Daily harvest report and instructions