Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. more info
Bluegill is a specific type of sunfish, a relatively small fish that makes for great fishing bait. Lots of larger fish such as bass and catfish will definitely be enticed by bluegill bait. With that said, bluegill cannot always be used as bait. So, is fishing with bluegill illegal?
The answer here is both yes and no, particularly if we are talking about the USA, because it is legal to use bluegill as bait in some states, not legal in others, and some states may allow for the use of bluegill as bait as long as certain conditions are met. Let’s take a closer look at the legalities of using bluefish as bait.
- 1 States Where It’s Illegal to Use Bluegill as Bait
- 2 States Where It’s Legal to Use Bluegill as Bait
- 3 How To Use Bluegill As A Bait
- 4 Good Alternative Baits To Consider
- 5 Conclusion
States Where It’s Illegal to Use Bluegill as Bait
What we want to do first is to provide you with a detailed list of all states in the USA where it is not legal to use bluegill fish as fishing bait.
- Alabama – illegal to use any game fish as bait besides bream
- Alaska – illegal to use live bait in freshwater
- California – the rules differ wildly from one area to another
- Connecticut – Bluefish is one of the few fish that cannot be used as live bait
- Delaware – only minnows can be used as live bait
- Idaho – fishing with live bait fish is not legal
- Illinois – only shad, minnows, and crayfish may be used as live bait
- Iowa – only minnows, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, frogs, crayfish, salamanders and mussels
- Louisiana – only minnows, crawfish, and shrimp may be used as live bait
- Maine – sunfish may not be used as live bait
- Maryland – only the use of minnows as live bait is allowed
- Massachusetts – it is not legal to use bluegill as live bait in this state
- Minnesota – fishing with game fish is not legal
- Missouri – using game fish for live bait is not legal
- Montana – this state barely allows for any live bait to be used
- Nevada – this state expressly prohibits the use of any live bait
- New Hampshire – bluegill is one of the few fish that cannot be used as bait
- New Jersey – bluegill is one of the few fish that cannot be used as bait
- **New Mexico – bluegill may be used as dead bait, but not live bait
- New York – bluegill cannot be used as live bait, but there are plenty of others
- North Dakota – using game fish for bait is not legal
- Ohio – not legal at all
- Oklahoma – only non-game fish can be used as bait
- Oregon – the use of any live bait is illegal
- Pennsylvania – the use of live bait is illegal
- Rhode Island – only minnows can be used as live bait
- South Carolina – besides bream, no game fish may be used as bait
- South Dakota – only bullheads can be used as bait fish
- Texas – only non-game fish may be used as bait
- Utah – fishing with live bait fish is not legal
- Washington – not legal at all
- West Virginia – only minnows may be used
- Wyoming – using live bait is illegal in most areas
States Where It’s Legal to Use Bluegill as Bait
Now that we know in which states it is not legal to use bluegill as fishing bait, let’s talk about all of the places where it is legal to use bluegill as bait.
- Alaska – fish with no harvest limits can be used as bait for saltwater fishing
- Arizona – sunfish may be used as bait in identified legal areas and waters
- Arkansas – all types of live bait are legal if caught in the same water as it is used
- Colorado – bluegill can be used as live bait if caught by certain methods (there are bag limits)
- Florida – as long as the bluegill is caught by the same person using it for bait
- Georgia – bluegill may be used as live bait if caught with seines, dip nets, or vast nets
- Hawaii – legal to use sunfish as long as you have a baitfish license
- Indiana – Fish caught by an angler may be used as bait
- Kansas – baitfish cannot exceed 12 inches, with 500 limit per person
- Kentucky – as long as the bait fish is native to Kentucky, it is legal
- Michigan – any species caught legally may be used as live bait
- Mississippi – all game fish are legal to use as bait as long as limits are followed
- Nebraska – all sport fish can be used as bait
- North Carolina – game fish can be used as bait if they have been caught legally
- Tennessee – bluegill and sunfish may be used as bait
- Vermont – the use of live bait is legal and encouraged
- Virginia – all fish may be used as bait when fished whole
- Wisconsin – most fish can be used as bait
How To Use Bluegill As A Bait
Ok, so now that you know where it is legal to use bluegill as bait, and where not, we now want to move onto quickly talking about how to use bluegill as bait for two specific fish, two popular types that many go for.
For Big Bass
The bluegill, as well as other sunfish, are a staple component of the bass’ diet, which therefore makes the bluegill a perfect bait.
To use bluegill as bass bait, get a bobber set up a couple of feet above the hook, and then use katana hook, circle hook, or baitholder hook to hook the fish right in the middle of the back.
Toss it out and let the fish swim around. When you see the bobber go nuts, something is eating the bluegill.
Keep in mind that bass are hunters, so they do want the bluegill to be alive.
Although you can use live bait for catfish, it is best to use cut bait. Catfish are not big hungers. Rather, they are scavengers and bottom feeders.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is to cut a bluegill into 3 pieces, and then hook those individual pieces on a baitholder hook, and then use a sinker to ensure that the bait makes its way to the bottom of the water column.
Good Alternative Baits To Consider
Ok, so seeing as bluegill is not legal to use as bait in many places, you may be looking for some alternative baits, so let’s take a quick look.
Minnows are an ideal bait to use for most types of fish, particularly those that like to go for live bait.
Minnows are small, cheap, easy to hook, and may be used as live bait in most places, especially in those places where using a game fish like a bluegill is not legal.
Now, shad may not be legal to use as bait in all places, but if it is, you should definitely try it.
Shad makes for excellent bait, and although it can be hard to find in bait shops, it does work very well, especially for catching fish such as catfish.
Salmon or Trout Eggs
If you are fishing for steelhead, salmon, or trout, then some of the best bait that you can use are either salmon eggs or trout eggs.
They’re bright, tasty, and not too expensive to purchase either.
If you happen to fishing in the ocean, then one of the best live baits to use is the flathead.
Any type of smaller flathead will do just fine.
Crayfish or Crawfish
Just in case you are confused, crayfish and crawfish are the same things.
Different areas of the world refer to them with different names. If you are fishing for freshwater fish in swamps and murky waters, then this little crustacean makes for an excellent bait.
Worms – Specifically Nightcrawlers
One of the best all around baits that you can use for more or less any freshwater or saltwater fishing purposes is the worm, specifically the nightcrawler.
If for whatever reason you are against using live bait or bait at all, you can always use lures. Lures come in all sorts of types, shapes, and sizes, for more or less any fishing application on planet earth.
- Is a bluegill the same as a sunfish?
- Do Crappie eat bluegill?
- Ideal hook size for bluegill explained.
The bottom line here is that if you are unsure as to whether or not bluegill can be used as bait where you live, you would be wise to look it up.
Other than that, as long as you know how to use bluegill as bait the right way, you should have no problems catching some big fish.