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Bullheads For Bait - Bad News!!

Dirk W

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Just received this letter from the DNR. All comments and suggestions on where to go form here are welcome. I'm very interested in what others have to say about this response.


Thank you for your patience in regards to this topic. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has spent considerable time reviewing and discussing the information that you provided.

Although Minnesota's border states allow sunfish to be used as bait, DNR will not be moving ahead to change the laws to include sunfish as a bait fish. Sunfish are very important game fish and DNR supports maintaining the current law that does not allow game fish to be used for bait.

In regards to the bullhead request, the laws associated with bullheads are complicated. The simple assumption to address your request might be to change the definition of minnows to include bullheads 7- to 12-inches. However, bullheads are defined not only as minnows, but as rough fish and a protected wild animal. Each of these definitions has a unique set of laws that govern how they can be taken, transported, etc. by the private aquaculture industry, commercial netting industry, minnow/bait industry, and recreational anglers. A change to one of these laws affects all of the others. For example, changing the definition of minnows to include bullheads up to 12 inches would mean that the private aquaculture industry could no longer import bullheads for sale within Minnesota because it is illegal to do this with species defined as "minnows." Transportation of "live" fish, types of equipment, and legal methods for taking are all examples of other laws that need to be looked at to fulfill your request.

For these reasons, DNR does not support changes at this time to allow larger bullheads as bait.

We appreciate your interest in this topic and your desire for change. DNR is willing to continue to look into the bullhead request and meet with you and other groups to have further discussion on proposed changes.

Linda Erickson-Eastwood

Assistant Program Manager - Fisheries

Minnesota DNR - Fish and Wildlife Division

500 Lafayette, Box 20

St Paul, MN 55155-4012

email = [email protected]

phone = 651-296-0791

fax = 651-297-4916

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Thanks Dirk for the info.

It was sounding good there for awhile,at least they were considering it.

It looks as though its pretty complicated.

I do however question the fact that the fish farmers are selling that many bullheads, that a simple change in the law might affect them.

Either that or they are selling bullheads as "catfish".

Even though flatheads enjoy a bullhead as much as a "fishhead",I think it is false advetising to sell bullheads as catfish.If thats the case.

Heck that is even complicated as they are catifsh.

Something to look at anyway?

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Why would they even try to sell bullheads here in Minnesota? I don't know of anybody that uses them for anything but bait. I've offered many bullheads to people of various sizes and nobody wants them.

By the way, have you noticed that in the 2004 Regulations, bullheads are now in a class of their own, giving a daily limit of only 100? Plus, they are listed in the "under-utilized" fish without a limit?

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Funny you mentioned this.. I have a buddy in EGF. He has a fish tank at home.. he was so proud to show me his baby flat head that he got from the pet shop that he had to order.. I went there and seen this nice little bull head... LOL... He did not want to believe it right off the bat but was convinced shortly.. now there is something wrong with that.....Bullheads for flatheads.. sigh...

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I wrote them back basically stating the same thing - that bullheads would most likely only be sold at shops surrounding the MN and Mississippi Rivers and tha the aqua culture business would have little interest in them. Does anyone sell bullheads now? I've never seen them for sale. I also asked about bypassing the commercial end of it altogether and making it legal for anglers to catch and use larger bullheads only for their own personal use. I haven't heard back from them.

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This issue is not dead yet. A couple of the boys, including myself, are going to be meeting with the DRN folks, hopefully within the next couple of weeks, to discuss this bait issue some more. What comes of it is anyone's guess. I still feel the DNR is willing to change the bulllhead law if they can find a way to do it without causing a negative, trickle down effect, with other other bait laws. We'll see.

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You can transport and use live bullheads that are 7" and under.

I beleive that you can use larger bullheads if they are caught in the body of water that you are using...Don't quote me.

From what I am hearing the bullhead debate is not over. Apparantly Brian and Dirk are still working with DNR over the issue.

Thanks for your effort guys!

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Brian K. and I met with some of the DNR folks about a week ago to go over the bait issues again. The sunfish issue is dead, they won't be legalized. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I think, eventually, there will be some changes in the bullhead law. They see the problem and understand our concerns. It may be a looooong time though, possibly a couple of years, before there are changes. The DNR reported that their legislative initiatives are many (their plate is full) this year so they probably won’t get to it this session. They are going to talk amongst themselves again within the next 2-3 weeks and see where they can go from here. They report that changes in the definition of a bullhead minnow from 7, to say 10 or 12 inches, may cause a trickle down effect with other laws and they are proceeding carefully and slowly. They said they may be able to bypass the legislative process altogether and work on rule changes rather than statute changes. We talked about other things such as how this might affect the commercial fisherman, whether bullheads should be legal to purchase, bullhead minnow limits, the possibility of a bullhead “recreational” license which would allow the transport of bullheads, etc. That’s about all I can report for now. Brain may have more to add.

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