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Baitfish Regulations

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Waterbody Definition for Baitfish Purposes

For purposes of baitfish regulations, waterbody shall mean:

Any lake, river, pond, stream, or any other distinct mass of water existing in the State of New York, whether publicly or privately owned, including the banks and shores thereof. A waterbody shall also include all tributaries upstream to the first barrier impassable to fish, including the banks and shores thereof. For the purposes of this definition, locks and dams shall be considered impassable barriers.

In addition, each of the following combined waterbodies, including all tributaries up to the first impassable barrier, shall be considered the same waterbody except that border waters shall only include the portion inside New York:

  1. Lake Ontario in combination with the Lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River
  2. Lake Erie in combination with the Upper Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, and waters of the Erie Barge Canal from the Upper Niagara River to Lock E35 in Lockport
  3. Onondaga Lake and the Three Rivers complex including the Seneca River downstream of the Erie Barge Canal Lock E24 and dam in Baldwinsville, the Oneida River downstream of the Caughdenoy Dam and Erie Barge Canal at Lock E23, and the Oswego River upstream of Lock 1 and the dam in Phoenix
  4. Oneida Lake and Erie Barge Canal downstream to Lock E23 and upstream to Lock E22, and the Oneida River downstream to Caughdenoy Dam
  5. Mohawk River from Barge Canal in Rome upstream to Delta Dam
  6. Erie Barge Canal from Lock E22 east to Lock E6
  7. Lake Champlain, including the Champlain Canal north of Lock 12
  8. Hudson River from the Federal Dam at Troy to Bakers Falls in the City of Hudson Falls, and the Champlain Canal up to but not above Lock 7 in Fort Edward, and the Erie Barge Canal up to but not above Lock E6 in Waterford
  9. Hudson River downstream from the Federal Dam at Troy to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island
  10. Susquehanna River downstream of dam in Oakland, Pennsylvania, and the Chenango River;
  11. Saranac Chain of Lakes from Lake Flower upstream to Barlett Carry Dam

Waters Where Use of Baitfish is Prohibited

Select a DEC Region to view the list of waters where baitfish is prohibited:

  • DEC Region 3 (certain waters within Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties)
  • DEC Region 4 (certain waters within Delaware County)
  • DEC Region 5 (certain waters within Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Warren, and Washington counties)
  • DEC Region 6 (certain waters within Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties)
Region 3
County Water
Orange Sterling Lake
Sullivan Crystal Lake
Hodge Pond
Mongaup Pond
Mongaup Creek (from confluence with Willowmoc upstream to Mongaup Pond)
Ulster Alder Lake
Echo Lake
Region 4
County Water
Delaware Huggins Lake
Trout Pond (Cables Lake)
Region 5
County Water
Clinton Cranberry Pond
Mud Pond (2 miles southwest of Riverview)
Mud Pond (towns of Black Brook and Dannemora)
Essex Barnes Pond
Bass Lake
Beaver Pond (south of Lake Andrew)
Bigsby Pond
Big Cherrypatch Pond
Big Sherman Pond
Black Pond
Bloody Pond
Boreas Pond
Cameras Pond
Center Pond
Challis Pond
Chub Pond
Clear Pond
Clements Pond
Copperas Pond
Cotters Pond
Courtney Pond
Crane Pond
Deer Pond (towns of Minerva and North Hudson)
First Lake of Essex Chain
Goose Puddle
Hewitt Pond
Howard Pond
Huntley Pond
Little Rankin Pond
Little Sherman Pond
Lower Twin Pond
McKenzie Pond
Moose Pond
Moose Mountain Pond
Morgan Pond (Copper Kill)
Mud Pond (north of Clear Pond)
Nate Pond
Newcomb Lake (including Upper and Lower Duck Hole)
Pharoah Lake
Rankin Pond
Stony Pond
Tom Peck Pond
Triangle Pond
Trout Pond
Twentyninth Pond
Unnamed Pond (north of LeClaire Brook)
Upper and Lower Preston Ponds
Upper Twin Pond

As well as waters within the following areas:
Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area
Giant Mountain Wilderness
Henderson Lakes Primitive Area
High Peaks Wilderness
Hoffman Notch Wilderness
Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area (except Hudson River)
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness (except West Branch of Ausable River)
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness
Pine Lake Primitive Area
Sentinel Range Wilderness (except East Branch of Ausable River)
Franklin Bad News Pond (1,000 feet northwest of Polliwog Pond)
Balsam Pond (2 miles west of Duck Pond)
Barnum Pond
Bear Pond
Benz Pond
Black Pond (Town of Brighton on Visitors Interpretive Center Property)
Black Pond (Town of Santa Clara between Square Pond and Whey Pond)
Buck Pond
Clear Pond
Debar Pond
Drain Pond
Duck or Echo Pond
Duell Pond (0.25 miles south of Little Green Pond)
East Copperas Pond
Federation Pond (0.25 miles southeast of East Pine Pond)
Fishhole Pond
Frog Pond (650 feet north of Polliwog Pond)
Grass Pond (1.25 miles northeast of Benz Pond)
Green Pond (north of Follensby Clear Pond)
Hope Pond
Horseshoe Pond
Little Black Pond (between Black and Square ponds)
Little Clear Pond
Little Hope Pond
Little Polliwog Pond
Long Pond (Town of Brighton north of Black Pond and Town of Waverly)
Loon Pond
Lost Pond (0.4 miles southwest of Mountain Pond)
Madawaska Pond
Malone Village Ice Pond
Meadow Pond (0.5 mile northwest of Lake Clear)
Mountain Pond
No Hope Pond (300 feet north of Hope Pond)
Panther Pond
Polliwog Pond
Porkchop Pond (0.6 miles east of Upper Saranac Lake)
Rag Pond (200 feet north of West Pine Pond)
Rat Pond
St. Germain Pond (0.5 miles north of Lake Clear)
Skiff Pond
Slush Pond
Star Mountain Ponds (2)
Sunday Pond (southeast of Rat Pond)
Sunrise Pond (east of Follensby Clear Pond)
Track Pond (0.75 miles northeast of Floodwood Pond)
Twelfth Tee or Gordon Pond (400 feet north of Green Pond)
Upper Spectacle Pond
West Pine Pond
Whey Pond
Winnebago Pond

As well as waters within the following areas:
High Peaks Wildnerness (except Raquette River and Saranac River)
Madawaska Flow-Quebec Brook Primitive Area
St. Regis Canoe Area
Fulton Conglin Lakes
County Line Lake
Fish Hatchery Pond
Fourth Lake
Goose Egg Lake
Holmes Lake
House Pond
Indian Lake
Knapps Long Lake
Long Pond
Mud Lake
Otter Lake
Stewart Lake
Third Lake
Hamilton Barker Pond
Bennett Lake
Bochen Lake
Bog Pond
Bug Lake
Bullhead Pond
Christian Lake
Eagles Nest Lake
First Lake of Essex Chain
G Lake
Grassy Pond
High Pond
High Rock Pond (1 mile east of Eighth Lake)
Icehouse Pond
Iron Lake
Jockeybush Lake
Lake Lila
Little Grassy Pond
Loon Pond
Lost Ponds (3 - Town of Inlet)
Lower Helms Pond
Mays Pond
Middle Helms Pond
Middle Lake
Middle Sargent Pond
Mitchell Ponds (2)
Mosquito Pond
Murphy Lake
OK Slip Pond
Owls Head Pond
Panther Pond
Pine Pond (west of Blue Mt. Lake)
Raquette Lake Reservoir
Redlouse Lake
Squaw Lake
Tirrell Pond
Unknown Pond (Town of Indian Lake)
Unnamed Pond (Town of Indian Lake 0.75 miles east of Barker Pond)
Unnamed Pond (Town of Morehouse 0.25 miles southwest of Squaw Lake)
Upper Helms Pond

As well as waters within the following areas:
Blue Ridge Wilderness
Buell Brook Primitive Area
Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area
Five Ponds Wilderness
High Peaks Wilderness (except Raquette River)
Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area (except Hudson River)
Little Moose Wilderness
Pigeon Lake Wilderness
Pine Lake Primitive Area
Round Lake Wilderness Area
Siamese Ponds Wilderness
Silver Lake Wilderness (except Sacandaga River)
Little Moose Wilderness
West Canada Lakes Wilderness
West Canada Mountain Primitive Area
William C. Whitney Wilderness
Warren Brown Pond
Buttermilk Pond
Clear Pond
Crane Montain Pond
Duck Pond
Eagle Pond
Gay Pond
Jabe Pond
Kibby Pond
Little Jabe Pond
Little Joe Pond
Lixard Pond
Long Pond
New Lake
Palmer Pond
Racket Ponds
Round Pond
Shiras Pond
Spectacle Ponds (2)
Thirteenth Lake
Thirteenth Lake Outlet (from dam at the 13th Lake Road upstream to Thirteenth Lake)
Unnamed Pond (Town of Johnsburg 2 miles east of Kibby Pond)
Unnamed Pond (Town of Thurman 1 mile northwest of Lixard Pond)
Viele Pond
Wilcox Lake

As well as waters within the following areas:
Pharoah Lake Wilderness
Siamese Ponds Wilderness
Washington Black Mountain Ponds (2)
Bumps Pond
Clear Pond
Fishbrook Pond
Greenland Pond
Inman Pond
Lapland Pond
Sawmill Pond
Spruce Pond
Region 6
County Water
Herkimer Bear Lake
Bubb Lake
Brewer Lake
Buck Lake (0.5 mile north of Hog Pond)
Buck Pond (1 mile west of Thirsty Pond)
Clear Pond
Moss Lake
Nicks Lake
Big Otter Lake
Quiver Pond
Razorback Pond
Sis Lake
Tied Lake
Twitchell Lake
West Pond (0.6 mile southwest of Big Moose Lake)
Wheeler Pond
Woods Lake

As well as waters within the following areas:
Five Ponds Wilderness
Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness
Pepperbox Wilderness
Pigeon Lake Wilderness
West Canada Lake Wilderness
Lewis Clear Pond
Cleveland Lake
Evles Pond
Green Pond
Little Silver Dawn Lake
Long Lake
Payne Lake
Pitcher Pond
Rock Pond
Sealy Pond
Seepage Pond
Silver Dawn Lake
Trout Pond

As well as waters within the following areas:
Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness
Oneida Brandy Lake
Round Pond
St. Lawrence Allen Pond
Black Pond
Bottree Pond
Bridgebrook Pond
Burntbridge Pond
Church Pond
Clear Pond (Town of Parishville)
Clear or Hedgehog Pond (Town of Colton)
Curtis Pond
Deer Pond
Dog Pond
Horseshoe Pond
Lilypad Pond
Long Lake
Long Pond (towns of Parishville and Piercefield)
Lows Lake (Bog River upstream of dam above Hitchens Pond)
Massawepie Lake
Nicks Pond
Pine Pond
Round Lake
Round Pond
Streeter Lake
Townline Pond (towns of Colton and Piercefield)

As well as waters within the following areas:
Five Ponds Wilderness
Raquette-Jordan Boreal Primitive Area
Round Lake Wilderness

Purchased Baitfish

Green List Baitfish

The following are the only species that can be purchased and used in waterbodies where it is legal to use fish as bait - see prohibited waters and waterbody definition above

  • Golden shiner
  • Emerald shiner
  • Common shiner
  • Spottail shiner
  • Fathead minnow
  • Bluntnose minnow
  • Eastern silvery minnow
  • Northern hogsucker
  • White sucker
  • Banded killifish
  • Creek chub
  • Fallfish
  • Logperch
  • Stonecat
  • Blacknose dace
  • Longnose dace
  • Northern redbelly dace
  • Margined madtom
  • Brindled madtom
  • Tadpole madtom

The following species may be purchased as baitfish and only used in the listed waters and their tributaries to the first impassable barrier.

Alewife

  • Canadice Lake
  • Canandaigua Lake
  • Cannonsville Reservoir
  • Cayuga Lake
  • Cayuta Lake
  • Conesus Lake
  • Hemlock Lake
  • Keuka Lake
  • Lake Ontario
  • Lake Erie
  • Lamoka Lake
  • Otisco Lake
  • Owasco Lake
  • Pepacton Reservoir
  • Seneca Lake
  • Waneta Lake
  • Hudson River (downstream from Lock C4 and its associated dam in Stillwater to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island)
  • Mohawk River
  • Niagara River
  • St. Lawrence River
  • All waters in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties

American Eel

  • Delaware River and tributaries to the first barrier impassable by fish (9-inch minimum size limit)
  • Hudson River downstream from the Federal Dam at Troy to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island (between 9 and 14 inches)

Blueback Herring and Atlantic Menhaden

  • Hudson River (downstream from Lock C4 and its associated dam in Stillwater to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island)
  • Mohawk River and tributaries to the first barrier impassable by fish

Mummichog

  • Hudson River and tidal portion of Hudson River tributaries downstream of the Federal Dam at Troy
  • All waters in Nassau and Suffolk counties

Rainbow Smelt

  • Canadice Lake
  • Canandaigua Lake
  • Cayuga Lake
  • Cayuta Lake
  • Conesus Lake
  • Fulton Chain Lakes (First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth)
  • Hemlock Lake
  • Honeoye Lake
  • Keuka Lake
  • Lake Champlain
  • Lamoka Lake
  • Lake Ontario
  • Lake Erie
  • Owasco Lake
  • Seneca Lake
  • Star Lake (St. Lawrence County)
  • Waneta Lake
  • St. Lawrence River
  • Niagara River
Certified Baitfish
  • Certified baitfish are those that have been tested and found to be free of specified diseases.
  • Certified baitfish purchased from a bait dealer can be transported overland in a motorized vehicle and used in any waterbody where it is legal to do so.
  • For baitfish to be considered certified, the seller must provide a receipt that contains the following listed information.
    • the seller's name,
    • date of sale,
    • the species of fish, and
    • the number of each species sold.
  • The buyer must retain the receipt while in possession of the baitfish. Baitfish without a receipt or with a receipt that is older than 10 days shall be considered uncertified bait.
Uncertified Baitfish
  • Uncertified baitfish are those that have not been tested to verify that they are free of specified diseases.
  • Uncertified baitfish purchased from a bait dealer can only be used on the same body of water that they were collected in.
  • Uncertified baitfish cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle (e.g., car) except within a designated overland transportation corridor.
  • The seller of uncertified baitfish outside of an overland transportation corridor is required to provide the same receipt information as for certified baitfish (see above) and also include the name of the waterbody in which the uncertified bait fish can be used and a warning to the purchaser that the baitfish may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle.

Personally Harvested Baitfish

Collection, Use, and Transportation
  • Any person who has a fishing license or is entitled to fish without a license may collect minnows (except carp, goldfish, or endangered or threatened species), killifish, mudminnows, darters, sticklebacks, stonecats, smelt, alewives, and suckers for personal use in hook-and-line fishing only (sale prohibited) by angling and with the gear types listed in the Gear for Taking Baitfish table. All other species must be immediately returned to the water.
  • Special regulations associated with personally harvesting alewife and blueback herring in the Hudson River can be found in the Tidal Hudson River Special Regulations.
  • Baitfish or other legally taken fish species intended to be used as bait may only be used in the same waterbody from which they were caught for bait in hook-and-line fishing. These fish may only be used in a waterbody where it is legal to use fish as bait.
  • Transportation of personally harvested baitfish overland by a motorized vehicle is prohibited except within a designated overland transportation corridor.
  • Smelt, suckers, alewives, and blueback herring taken for human consumption only may be transported at any time.
  • Smelt may be taken only by angling in the Hudson River downstream of the Troy Dam and in Lake Champlain, Upper and Lower Saranac Lakes, Lake Clear (Franklin County), Chazy Lake, and their tributaries to the first impassable barrier.
  • Possession or use of minnow traps and nets is prohibited on units of state land/waters where the use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
Gear for Taking Baitfish
Gear for Taking Baitfish
Gear Time Waters
Seine or scap net: maximum size 36 square feet Sunrise to sunset All non-trout waters
Minnow trap: maximum length 20", maximum entrance diameter 1", must be marked with owner's name and address Anytime Waters open to baitfish use
Seine: maximum size 36 square feet Anytime Lakes Erie & Ontario excluding their inlets, outlets, bays
Niagara River
Hudson River below Troy Dam
Cast net maximum 10 feet in diameter Anytime Hudson River below Troy Dam
In addition, alewives are the only fish that may be taken as follows:
Gill nets: maximum length 25 feet, maximum area 200 square feet, maximum size 1" bar Anytime Canadice, Canandaigua, Cayuga, Hemlock, Keuka, Owasco, Otisco, and Seneca lakes.
Stunning may be used to collect stonecats. Stunning means tapping a stone with an implement or other stone.
Natural Baits

See Natural Baits Regulations for information about taking and using species such as salamanders and snakes, frogs, aquatic insects, rusty crayfish and fish eggs as bait.

Species Prohibited for Use as Bait

Carp, goldfish, lamprey larvae, round goby, European rudd as well as species listed as endangered or threatened in New York State may not be used for bait.

Use of Dead Fish as Bait

Any dead fish, or parts thereof excluding eggs, that are legal to possess and are not prohibited for use as bait, that have been packaged for commercial sale and have been preserved by methods other than by freezing only (e.g., salted minnows) can be used in any waterbody where it is legal to use fish as bait and do not require a receipt.

Each package of dead bait fish must be individually labeled, identifying the:

  • name of the packager/processor,
  • name of the species,
  • quantity of fish contained, and
  • means of preservation.

Restrictions on Use and Possession of Marine Baitfish

Baitfish collected in the Marine and Coastal District (see Definitions) may be transported overland only for use in the Marine and Coastal District in the following counties: Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Bronx, Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland, and Westchester.

Overland Transportation Corridors

Three defined overland transportation corridors were designated for the purposes of allowing the transport and use of uncertified baitfish by anglers in specific areas of the state. Uncertified baitfish are only allowed to be used on the same body of water where they were collected within these corridors. The three overland transportation corridors are intended to primarily serve anglers fishing the following major waterbodies:

  • Lake Erie-Upper Niagara River
  • Lower Niagara River-Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River
  • Tidal Hudson River
Transporting Within an Overland Transportation Corridor
  • Purchased Uncertified Baitfish
    Uncertified baitfish purchased from a bait dealer may be transported within a designated overland transportation corridor provided a receipt, issued by the seller and retained by the purchaser while in possession of the baitfish, contains the following:
    • seller's name,
    • date of sale,
    • species of fish,
    • number of each species sold,
    • waterbody the baitfish must be used in,
    • overland transportation corridor the baitfish must be transported within, and
    • a warning that the baitfish may only be transported within that overland transportation corridor.
  • Personally Collected Baitfish
    Personally collected baitfish taken from a waterbody within an overland transportation corridor may be transported within that corridor. These baitfish may only be used within the same waterbody where they were collected.
Designated Overland Transportation Corridors
Upper Niagara River and Lake Ontario Overland Transportation Cooridor for Baitfish

Upper Niagara River/Lake Erie

The geographical area associated with the New York portion of Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River west of and including a line starting at I-90 at the Pennsylvania border, then continuing east to its intersection with I-290, then continuing north along I-290 to its intersection with State Rte. 62, then continuing west to its intersection with I-190, then north to its intersection with the Lower Niagara River.

Baitfish collected from the New York portion of the Upper Niagara River/Lake Erie waterbody may be transported within this corridor.

Hudson River Overland Transportation Cooridor for Baitfish

Hudson River

The geographical area associated with the Hudson River south of the Federal Dam at Troy starting at the eastern shore of the Hudson River at the Federal Dam in Troy, continuing east on W. Glenn Ave. in Troy to its intersection with State Rte. 4, then continuing south on State Rte. 4 to its intersection with State Rtes. 9 & 20, then continuing easterly to its intersection with State Rte. 9, then continuing east on State Rte. 82, to its intersection with the Taconic State Parkway, then continuing south on the Taconic State Parkway to its intersection with the Sprain Brook Parkway, then continuing south on the Sprain Brook Parkway to its intersection with I-287, then continuing west on I-287 across the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to I-87 North, then continuing north on I-87 to where State Rte. 9W crosses I-87 in Greene County, then continuing north on State Rte. 9W to where State Rte. 9W crosses I-87 in Albany County, then continuing north on I-87 to its intersection with State Rte. 7, then continuing east on State Rte. 7 to its intersection with I-787, then continuing north on I-787 to its intersection with Tibbets Ave., then continuing east on Tibbets Ave. to its intersection with Delaware Ave., then proceeding in a straight line to the west edge of the Troy Dam.

Baitfish collected from the New York portion of the Tidal Hudson River waterbody may be transported within this corridor.

Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and St. Lawrence River Overland Transportation Cooridor for Baitfish

Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River

The geographical area associated with New York portion of the Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River starting at the intersection of I-190 and the Lower Niagara River, then continuing eastward to its intersection with State Rte. 104, then continuing eastward to its intersection with State Rte. 3, then continuing east on State Rte. 3 to its intersection with State Rte. 104, then continuing eastward on State Rte. 104 to its intersection with State Rte. 11, then continuing north on State Rte. 11 to its intersection with State Rte. 56, then continuing north along State Rte. 56 to its intersection with State Rte. 37, then continuing east along State Rte. 37 to its intersection with Racquette Point Rd., then continuing north on Racquette Point Rd. to its intersection with Ransom Rd., and then continuing west on Ransom Rd. and terminating at the St. Lawrence River.

Baitfish collected from the New York portion of the Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River waterbody may be transported within this corridor.