Fishing responsibly with live baitfish

Anglers baiting their hooks are the last line of defense stopping the spread of unwanted species. Help protect Maine’s fisheries:

Always check fishing regulations to ensure live baitfish/live smelts are allowed to be used in that water. Remember, live baitfish laws are different in the North and South Zones – learn more.

At the end of the day or if putting on fresh bait, never put old bait in the water body or down your hole. Dispose of it on land or in the trash.

Never dump your bait bucket where fish could get into the water. Always dispose of unwanted baitfish on land or in the trash. Dispose of unused worms in the trash, not in the water or on land.

Nonresident anglers visiting Maine are reminded that it is illegal to bring baitfish into the state of Maine, and those who do are subject to a $10,000 fine. This law prevents new species of fish and invasive hitchhikers in the bait bucket water from being introduced and harming Maine’s fish communities.
With an estimated 90% of baitfish sales occurring during winter, it’s important for anglers to be aware of Maine’s live-bait regulations. Because of the importance of our freshwater ecosystems, we walk a fine line trying to prevent the illegal introduction of harmful fish species while allowing anglers to continue Maine’s cultural tradition of using live baitfish where appropriate.