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Baitfish Primer

Bait Fish illustration

Fisheries and Oceans Canada have a document called “The Baitfish Primer”. Below is an excerpt:

Recreational angling is a popular pastime in Ontario - well over one million residents and visitors enjoy angling every year. Angling supports many aspects of the Ontario economy, including the baitfish industry. Many anglers use live bait, including baitfishes. Few anglers probably realize that there are over 40 species of legal baitfishes in Ontario. To many, all small fishes look alike; however, upon closer inspection, most baitfish species can be distinguished from one another with relative ease. If you can tell a house sparrow apart from a black-capped chickadee, then (with practice) you will soon be able to distinguish a Creek Chub from a Longnose Dace!

The ability to distinguish among small fish species is important, as the use of many species for bait is illegal. It is discouraged, and often illegal, to use sportfishes, introduced (non-native) fishes, or fish species that are so rare that their use may lead to further declines and possible extinction. Even within fish families generally considered legal baitfishes, there are individual fish species that cannot be used.

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