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Freshwater Bait Fish License

Authorizes an individual to harvest (take) and sell certain fish and aquatic insects as bait.

License Details


Varies by gear type or activity as shown 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
$10 $30
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

License Duration

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:
    • Carp
    • Goldfish
    • 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:

  • Golden shiner
  • Emerald shiner
  • Spottail shiner
  • Common shiner
  • Fathead minnow
  • Bluntnose minnow
  • Creek chub
  • Blacknose dace
  • Longnose dace
  • Northern redbelly dace
  • Northern hogsucker
  • Fallfish
  • Logperch
  • Banded killifish
  • Landlocked alewife
  • Rainbow smelt
  • Mummichog
  • Atlantic menhaden
  • American eel

How to Apply

Complete and submit the Freshwater Bait Fish License Application (PDF)

Laws & Regulations

New York Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)

To find a law click on the link, click on ENV, find Article 11, click on the appropriate law.

Contact Information

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:

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.
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    Albany, NY 12233-4752
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