Live Bait Regulations

Live Bait Species

Live bait includes crayfish, freshwater shrimp, southern leopard frogs, plains leopard frogs, cricket frogs, and nongame fish. Bullfrogs and green frogs taken under season limits and methods also may be used as bait.

  • Bighead carp and silver carp may not be used as live bait but may be used as dead or cut bait.
  • Live bait taken from public waters of Missouri may not be sold or transported to other states.
  • Game fish or their parts may not be used as bait.


  • Live bait may be taken by trap, dip net, throw net, pole and line or seine.
  • Live-bait traps must have a throat opening not more than 1-1/2 inches in any dimension, and must be labeled with the user’s full name and address, or Conservation Number.
  • Traps must be removed if they cannot be checked at least once every 24 hours.
  • Seines must not be more than 20 feet long and 4 feet deep, with a mesh of not more than 1/2 inch bar measure.
  • Live bait, except fish, may be taken by hand.
  • Crayfish also may be taken by trap with an opening not to exceed 1-1/2 inches by 18 inches.

Length Limits

  • All bluegill, green sunfish and bullheads more than 5 inches long and other species of nongame fish more than 12 inches long must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught by any of the methods listed above except pole and line. The daily limits for nongame fish apply to the large fish taken by pole and line.
  • There is no length limit on bighead carp, common carp, gizzard shad, goldfish, grass carp and silver carp when used as bait.


Live bait may be taken throughout the year.

Daily Limit

  • A combined total of 150 crayfish, freshwater shrimp and non-game fish.
  • 5 each of southern leopard frog, plains leopard frog and cricket frog.
  • A combined total of 8 bullfrogs and green frogs. Bullfrogs and green frogs may be taken only from sunset June 30 through Oct. 31.
  • Any number of goldfish and bighead, common, grass and silver carp.
  • Any number of live bait, when purchased or obtained from a source other than the waters of the state or a licensed commercial fisherman; must be species on the Approved Aquatic Species List and angler must carry a dated receipt for the bait.

Other Species That May be Used as Bait

  • Nongame fish of any size, except bowfin, if taken according to the non-game methods and seasons.
  • Mussels and clams legally taken by sport fish methods.

Check the Code

This is NOT a legal document. Regulations are subject to revision during the current year.
Refer to the Wildlife Code.

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Fishing Regulations Summary