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Collect Your Own Baitfish in Michigan? Be Aware of the New Rules

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Anglers in Michigan who use their own caught baitfish have to use it the same body of water or connected bodies.

That’s the main thrust of new baitfish regulations approved by the Natural Resources Commission, says the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The new regulations updates Fisheries Order 245, which was approved in 2007. Order 245 was put in place to help protect Michigan waters from fish diseases and aquatic invasive species.

“The ecological and economic impact of diseases and aquatic invasive species is very significant in Michigan and across the Great Lakes Region,” says Todd Grischke, assistant chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. “These updated regulations provide our fisheries with further protection.”

Commercial providers of baitfish must test their product for diseases before it can be sold, the DNR says. Anglers who catch bait in a lake-tributary system can use it in the lake and the tributaries. This includes chains of lakes without barriers.

“The general rule of thumb is if the baitfish can swim freely from the capture location to the location of use, the angler is in compliance,” says the DNR.

Keeping the fish within a system can help prevent the spread of disease if present in the fish. It also keeps any invasive species from reaching new waters.

Species like rusty crayfish and round goby have been spread by anglers collecting their own bait for use in a different location. Visit the DNR website for more information on Michigan’s baitfish regulations.

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Collect Your Own Baitfish in Michigan? Be Aware of the New Rules