New rules coming into effect on January 1, 2022:

  • establishing four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to limit the movement of baitfish and leeches in Ontario
  • restricting the transportation of baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, into or out of a BMZ with some limited exceptions
  • anglers fishing outside their home BMZ must purchase baitfish and leeches locally, retain a receipt and use or dispose of their bait within two weeks from when they were purchased
  • harvesting of baitfish and leeches by anglers may only occur in their home BMZ

Bait Management Zones (BMZs) (RESORT IS ZONE 8 AND OUTPOSTS ARE ZONE 10)

Ontario is implementing four Bait Management Zones (BMZs) to restrict the movement of commercially harvested, personally harvested, or purchased baitfish and leeches.

With limited exceptions, baitfish or leeches, whether live or dead, must not be transported into or out of a BMZ. For the most part, BMZ boundaries follow Fisheries Management Zone (FMZs) boundaries.

Recreational anglers

Effective January 1, 2022, anglers fishing outside of their home BMZ are required to:

  • purchase baitfish and leeches from a commercial licence holder (such as a bait shop) in the BMZ where they are fishing
  • use or dispose of baitfish or leeches (dead or alive) within two weeks of purchasing them and retain a legible receipt that includes:
  • date of purchase
  • business name (if applicable)
  • commercial licence number
  • location of purchase
  • quantity of bait purchased

An angler’s home BMZ is the BMZ where their primary residence is located, which is defined as the place with which a person has the greatest connection in terms of present and anticipated future living arrangements, the activities of daily living, family connections, financial connections and social connections. For greater certainty a person only has one primary residence, no matter how many dwelling places the person may have, inside or outside Ontario.

Fishing with bait

Laws/rules

By law, you need a valid fishing licence (such as sport or conservation) to catch your own live:

Baitfish, leeches, crayfish and northern leopard frogs

With a fishing licence, you cannot:

  • import live fish, crayfish, live leeches or salamanders
  • sell baitfish and leeches — unless you have a valid commercial bait licence
  • capture, import or use salamanders as bait

The Ontario fishing regulations control live bait to prevent the spread of: infectious fish diseases (such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia), unwanted fish species and invasive species.

Bait disposal rules
It is illegal to empty your bait bucket, drain the water or release live bait into a lake, river or other waters.

Instead, you must: drain your bucket onshore (30 metres from the water) or freeze the excess minnows for another day.

NOTE: In some areas of Ontario and many individual waterbodies, you cannot use or possess any kind of live bait. You can find a complete set of provincial rules, including restrictions on fishing with live bait in the: Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary.

Catch/purchase limits
You can catch baitfish and leeches if you are fishing in your home BMZ or buy baitfish and leeches, up to the possession limit.

  • You can catch crayfish or frogs but you cannot buy them.

You cannot have in your possession more than:

  • 120 baitfish
  • 120 leeches
  • 36 crayfish
  • 12 northern leopard frogs

For more info, please refer to this link:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/sustainable-bait-management-ontario
https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-fishing-regulations-summary/fisheries-management-zone-8
https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-fishing-regulations-summary/fisheries-management-zone-10