Iowa DNR's Twitter Iowa DNR's Flicker Iowa DNR's YouTube Iowa DNR's Pinterest Iowa DNR's Facebook | Iowa Outdoors Magazine | News | Contact Us

Site Search  search button
Do I Need a License to Catch Bait?
Yes, a fishing license is required if you take minnows or any other species of fish for your own individual use for bait.


What Equipment Can I Use to Catch My Bait?

  • a minnow dip net - up to 4 feet in diameter
  • a cast net - up to 10 feet in diameter
  • a minnow seine - up to 20 feet in length with a mesh size of one-fourth-inch bar measure or larger
  • a minnow trap up to 36 inches in length (each trap must have a metal tag with owner's name and address)


Alive or dead bait can be used from the following species:

  • Minnows
    • chubs
    • shiners
    • suckers
    • dace
    • stonerollers
    • mud-minnow
    • redhorse
    • blunt-nose minnow
    • fathead minnow
  • green sunfish
  • orange-spotted sunfish
  • frogs
  • crayfish
  • salamanders
  • mussels
Only dead bait can be used from the following species: gizzard shad.


Non-bait Species

The following species cannot be used for bait in any inland water of the state:
  • carp
  • quillback
  • gar
  • dogfish
You can return fish of these species to the water from which they were taken. You cannot possess live gizzard shad at any lake. Any gizzard shad taken for bait purposes must be killed immediately.


Selling Bait

You must first obtain a bait dealer's license before you take or attempt to take bait for commercial purposes (selling, giving or furnishing to others). An aquaculture license is needed to raise bait, but not to sell bait. See Iowa Code 481A.142 for more information.


Selling Minnows Outside State

Licensed bait dealers can carry, transport, or ship or cause to be carried, transported, or shipped any minnows for the purpose of sale beyond the boundaries of the state which are bred, hatched, propagated, or raised on a licensed aquaculture unit.


Bait Dealer's License

For more information about bait dealer's licenses, see Iowa Code 481A.144 and Iowa Code 481A.145.
License fee: Iowa Resident - $30.50 and Nonresident - $125.00


Bait Dealer Equipment

Licensed bait dealers may use:
  • a minnow seine up to 50 feet in length, with mesh size larger than 1/4 inch bar
  • a minnow dip net up to 4 feet in diameter, with mesh larger than 1/4 inch bar
  • a minnow trap up to 36 inches in length (each trap must have a metal tag with owner's name and address)
Licensed bait dealers can sell minnows, frogs, crayfish, salamanders and mussels for fish bait.
They cannot sell:
  • live gizzard shad
  • carp
  • quillback
  • gar
  • dogfish
Bait dealers' tanks and bait boxes must be of sufficient size and have proper aeration to keep the bait alive and prevent substantial loss.

Bait dealers can take only the size of bait you can use and must return all small minnows and frogs to the water immediately. They must be present when their bait is taken.

You may take bait (except endangered or threatened species listed under Iowa Code 481B and

Menu