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Requirements & Law
BAITFISH includes all forms of minnows; suckers, chubs, Fallfish, lampreys; Gizzard Shad 8 inches or less taken from inland ponds, lakes or reservoirs; and all forms of darters, killifishes and stonecats (except those listed as threatened or endangered species). Legally taken gamefish may be used as bait. It is unlawful to use or possess Round Gobies, Tubenose Gobies, goldfish, comets, koi and Common Carp as baitfish while fishing.

FISHBAIT includes crayfish, crabs and the nymphs, larvae and pupae of all insects spending any part of their life cycle in the water.

For all crayfish species, the head must be immediately removed behind the eyes upon capture unless used as bait in the water from which taken.

SEASON, SIZE, LIMIT – No closed season (except as noted below) and no minimum size. The daily limit and possession limit is 50 combined species. When purchasing bait, be sure to obtain and keep the sales slip or receipt. The receipt authorizes the possession of the fishbait or baitfish so purchased for a period of 15 days after its date of issue. Fishbait or baitfish purchased from a licensed dealer do not have a possession limit and do not count toward your daily limit of fishbait and baitfish taken from Commonwealth waterways. Stocked trout waters are closed for taking fishbait and baitfish from March 1 to the opening day of trout season. Most specially regulated trout waters are closed to taking fishbait and baitfish at all times.

TAKING AND KEEPING BAIT is permitted using rod and reel or handline, dip net or minnow seine not over 4 feet square in diameter, or a minnow trap with no more than two openings that shall not exceed 1 inch in diameter. All devices must be under the immediate control of the person using them. Unattended minnow traps or baitfish containers left in Commonwealth waters must be identified with the owner’s or user’s name, address and telephone number. If fishing in a group and the total number of fishbait or baitfish taken exceeds the possession limit (50), separate containers must be provided for the fishbait and baitfish. Total possession limit in any one container may not exceed 50 baitfish or fishbait combined.

MUDBUGS (dragonfly nymphs) – No daily limit from lakes, ponds, swamps or adjacent areas; the daily limit from rivers and streams is 50.

FROGS AS BAIT – Except for those listed as endangered or threatened or those with zero possession limit, frogs may be used as bait. Certain seasons and possession limits apply (see reptiles & amphibians).

Releasing fish from another state, province or country into Commonwealth waters is illegal without written permission from the Commission. Transferring fish from one Pennsylvania watershed to another where that species is not always present is also illegal without written consent from the Commission.
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