Bait Fish License
Authorizes an individual to harvest (take) and sell certain fish and aquatic insects as bait.
Varies by gear type or activity as sown below:
|Gear Type or Operation / Activity||Bait License Fee|
|Resident* Fees||Non-residents Fees|
|Sell bait fish||$2||$6|
|Sell and take aquatic insects||$2||$6|
|Sell and take with seine net||$10 for first 50 feet, plus $0.25 for each additional foot||$30 for first 50 feet, plus $0.75 for each additional foot|
|Sell and take with cast net
maximum 10 feet in diameter for use in the main stem of the Hudson River only
|Take with minnow traps
maximum 3 x 1-1/2 feet
|$3 each||$9 each|
|Take with fyke net
maximum 2 foot hoop
|$3 each||$9 each|
*Resident includes anyone who has resided in New York State for at least 6 months prior to the time of applying for the license
1-year license (January 1 - December 31)
What This License Allows
- Harvesting baitfish (defined below) and aquatic insects with nets or traps from private ponds, marine and coastal district waters, or specially designated waters (see Part 35.2(d) for a list of specially designated waters by county - link to regulations is available below).
- Selling baitfish and aquatic insects for wholesale or retail.
What This License Does Not Allow:
- Collecting the following freshwater species as bait:
- Lamprey larvae
- Round goby
- Taking smelt with nets or traps from Upper and Lower Saranac Lakes, Lake Champlain or the Hudson River and tidal waters.
- Transporting baitfish from one body of water to another body of water.
- Taking and landing fish for commercial purposes in the Hudson River south of the Tappan Zee Bridge (requires a marine foodfish license and a Hudson River marine permit - see marine permits)
Other Pertinent Information
Fish Health Certification Report: prior to selling baitfish, a fish health certification report must be completed by a qualified inspector to indicate that the fish are free of diseases. More details can be found in the regulations link below.
Baitfish species that may be harvested and sold include the following:
How to Apply
Complete and submit the Bait Fish License Application (PDF) (141 KB)
Laws & Regulations
New York Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)
- Part 35: Commercial Inland Fisheries Licenses (Taking and Sale of Baitfish)
- Part 188: Fish Health Inspections
Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)
- 11-1315: Taking and Sale of Bait Fish (Link leaves DEC's website)
- 11-1317: Fish-bait; Protection of Aquatic Insects (Link leaves DEC's website)
Bureau of Fisheries
Find a Regional Fisheries Office near you for phone, email and address information.
Additional Resources and Information
The following links offer more details and information regarding selling or harvesting baitfish in New York State:
- Baitfish Seller FAQs
- Commercial Baitfish Collectors FAQs
- Use of Marine Bait Fish
- Baitfish of New York State (PDF) (1.85 MB)
Other Related or Similar Licenses
- Marine/Saltwater Bait Licenses: DEC issues a variety of other licenses for taking saltwater species of fish or shellfish as bait in the marine and coastal district.