We want people to continue to enjoy Wisconsin's great fishing and boating, but need everyone to do their part. All boaters and anglers should follow simple precautions to prevent the spread of VHS and other invasive species in Wisconsin waters.
In addition, the following statewide rules apply to boaters, anglers and wild bait harvesters in Wisconsin.
Anglers and boaters
The following new laws apply to all anglers and boaters in Wisconsin:
Anglers who harvest wild bait for personal use
- VHS affected waters are closed to all minnow harvesting (currently these include Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Mississippi River, the Lake Winnebago system, Fox River from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay, the Wisconsin River up to the Prairie du Sac Dam and all connecting waters upstream to the first barrier impassable to fish). The only exception is that suckers (which are legally considered to be minnows also) can be taken but may not be transported away alive.
- On other waters, minnows may be taken for personal use but may not be transported alive away from the water, or by Wisconsin bait dealers under a DNR wild bait harvest permit.
- People who live on a lake or are vacationing at a resort may keep live bait in floating or submerged containers tethered to a dock or boat. Any unattended containers holding minnows or fish must be labeled with the owner’s name and address.
People who harvest wild bait harvest for commercial use
- No one may harvest minnows for commercial sale from VHS-affected waters.
- Harvesters must be a bait dealer and apply for a wild bait harvest permit and specify which lake or stream segment they will collect from and keep records of their harvest and what they did with the minnows.
- May not possess farm-raised fish while engaged in harvesting operations or while transporting wild-harvested minnows to the bait dealer’s business location or from the water were harvested to the point of sale.
- Must have all VHS-susceptible minnows inspected by a qualified fish health expert and receive a Fish Health Certificate before they can be distributed. Minnow species on the VHS-susceptible list as defined by the federal USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, include emerald shiners, spottail shiners, and bluntnose minnows
- Harvesters are required to disinfect all of their gear before harvesting in another waterbody