bait bucket
Even when bait has been legally sourced, anglers are liable for the possession of any non-baitfish species.

Editor’s notice: This story has been edited Might 16, 2024 to replicate up to date rules and proper numerical and descriptive inaccuracies.

With the revealing of Ontario’s new Sustainable Bait Administration Technique in 2020, minnows are possible prime of thoughts for a lot of anglers this season. In fact, reside bait continues to be an ideal instrument for anglers, however it additionally presents a threat, as bait buckets present one of many best methods for dangerous invasive species to unfold.

As anglers, now we have each authorized and ethical obligations to practise due diligence on the subject of invasive species prevention, and which means figuring out what’s in our buckets.

One fish, two fish, crimson fish, blue fish

With 34 forms of authorized baitfish in Ontario, minnow identification might be daunting. However what in case you don’t should know each fish?

As an alternative of changing into baitfish consultants, anglers can use traits that baitfish by no means or not often show to display screen their bait and pick fish that don’t belong, or no less than warrant a more in-depth look.

Bait traits to look at for

Spiny dorsal fin:

No species of Ontario baitfish has these. Though sticklebacks do have spines, these usually are not linked as a part of a fin. What might or not it’s? Perch, walleye, smallmouth or largemouth bass, rockbass, sunfish, Eurasian Ruffe.


Aka barbels. No species of Ontario baitfish has distinguished barbells. What might or not it’s? Juvenile bullhead, frequent carp, or burbot.

Flat our bodies:

Few Ontario baitfish have flat our bodies (like a panfish). An instance can be sticklebacks. What might or not it’s? Juvenile smallmouth or largemouth bass, rock bass, crappie, sunfish, trout species

Vertical bands:

Most Ontario baitfish do not need vertical stripes/banding. Exceptions embody central mudminnow, banded Killifish, and a few sticklebacks. What might or not it’s? Juvenile yellow perch, smallmouth bass, sunfish, muskie, pike.


Most Ontario baitfish do not need distinguished spots alongside the physique. Exceptions embody brook stickleback and troutperch. What might or not it’s? Juvenile trout species, crappie, spherical goby, Eurasian Ruffe.

A number of baitfish species have a single spot on their dorsal or caudal fins, together with spottail shiner, creek chub, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, hornyhead chub, and spotfin shiner.

Vivid colors:

Most Ontario baitfish don’t show brilliant, flashy colors. Exceptions embody species with crimson alongside the fins or physique, resembling some dace, redfin shiner, and longnose sucker.
What might or not it’s? Juvenile brook or rainbow trout, rosy crimson minnow, rudd, goldfish, different unique aquarium fish.

Fused pelvic fin:

No species of Ontario baitfish has a single, fused pelvic fin. What might or not it’s? Spherical or tubenose goby.

creek chub (left) rock bass (right)
Juvenile fish like this rock bass (proper) will typically make it into your baitfish traps. A creek chub (left) is a authorized baitfish in Ontario.

Extra information

Initially revealed within the April 2023 subject of Ontario OUT of DOORS

Matthew Robbins is an OFAH Fish and Wildlife Biologist. He might be reached at:

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