Frequently Asked Questions about Using Bait Fish

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

These questions can help you determine the legality of different scenarios when using bait fish.

Can I collect bait at a reservoir/lake and then transport it in a car to the other side of the lake to use?

Yes. Caution: If it is ANS designated water (an area with zebra mussels, Asian carp, or white perch), the rules are different. No live fish may be possessed upon departure from the ANS designated water. That means you can use live fish caught at that water, but if you leave the property of the person or entity owning land surrounding that water, the fish must be dead first. This allows you to drive from the boatramp to the fish cleaning station or campsite only to return directly to the lake at a later time, provided you do not leave the property. If you can get from one side of the lake to the other without leaving the property, the transport is legal. Bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.

Can I collect bait at a lake and then use it below the dam in the stream or spillway?

No. The rule specifically states, wild-caught bait fish may be used as live bait only within the pool of the lake or impoundment where taken, except that bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state..

Can I collect bait in the stream/river and use as LIVE bait in the downstream impoundment?

No. Bait collected in the stream/river above a reservoir, cannot be used in the downstream reservoir, except that bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.

Where can I use LIVE stream/river caught bait?

Bait fish taken from a flowing stream can be used in any flowing portion of that stream provided an upstream crossing of a dam or natural barrier does not occur, except that bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.

Can I collect bait from a pond and take it to the lake or stream?

No. Wild-caught bait fish shall only be used on the body of water where taken, except that bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state..

Can I collect bait from a private water fishing impoundment?

Yes. To determine the legality of this movement, consider the impoundment you are using as your bait source, except that bluegill and green sunfish collected from non-designated aquatic nuisance waters may be possessed or used as live bait anywhere in the state.

Is it a private water fishing impoundment as in K.S.A. 32-701 (o)?

Note: Any impoundment with flow or owned by more than one owner does not qualify as a private waterfishing impoundment.

  • K.S.A. 32-701. (o)
    • (o) "Private water fishing impoundment" means one or more water impoundments:
    • (1) Constructed by man rather than natural, located wholly within the boundary of the landsowned or leased by the person operating the private water impoundments; and
    • (2) entirely isolated from other surface water so that the impoundment does not have any connection either continuously or at intervals, except during periods of floods, with streams orother bodies of water so as to permit the fish to move between streams or other bodies of water and the private water impoundments, except that the private water impoundments may be connected with a stream or other body of water by a pipe or conduit if fish will be prevented at all times from moving between streams or other bodies of water and the private water impoundment by screening the flow or by other means.

Can I purchase bait and then transport it to wherever I want?

Yes. Bait sold from Kansas commercial bait dealers has been inspected for disease and ANS. When purchasing from dealers, you must keep the purchase receipt with you while fishing. Remember, if you are fishing at an ANS designated water, the fish must be dead before you leave the property, even your bait fish.

Do I have to drain all water when leaving an area?

Yes. Water must be drained and the drain plug removed from all boat bilges and livewells prior to transport on a public road. You can take water away in a bucket, but make sure it does not contain any illegal wildlife such as zebra mussel larvae (veligers). It is against state and federal law to possess, import, and transport live invasive species (K.A.R. 115-18-10). A good rule of thumb would be to not take water away with you, especially when leaving an ANS designated water. In 2006 biologists looked at the number of zebra mussel veligers in a typical livewell/bilge system. It was discovered that boats leaving a reservoir that contained zebra mussels could have spread 468-975 veligers per boat by not draining.

The rule says I cannot possess live fish upon departure from any ANS designated water. What is considered dead?

Fish cannot be alive. That means the fish must look and act dead. We recommend that you cut the fish, pack the fish on ice, or haul away in a dry container. A good technique is to freeze tap water in milk jugs and use them to keep your harvested fish fresh when hauling them home.What do I do with my unused bait?Do not release the bait into the water. Dispose of the bait on dry ground or in an approved bait receptacle.