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Catching Bait and Using Bait

220-2-.39 Legal Methods of Taking Minnows, Shad, and Suckers for Bait and Mullet in Freshwater

Steve Hacker tosses a cast net.It is hereby made lawful to take minnows (except spotfin chub, blue shiner, Cahaba shiner, palezone shiner, roach and rudd), shad (except blueback herring), and the following species of suckers: spotted sucker, Minytrema melanops; black redhorse, Moxostoma duquesnel; golden redhorse, Moxostoma erythrurum; and the blacktail redhorse, Moxostoma poecilurum; by the use of a cast net, minnow jug, minnow basket, not to exceed 24 inches in length, 12 inches in diameter, with funnel entrance not more than one inch in diameter, or dip net or seine, commonly known as a minnow seine, the length of which shall not exceed 25 feet and the width or depth of which shall not exceed 4 feet for the purpose of taking shad, minnows, or the sucker species identified above for the exclusive use as fish bait. However, no seines may be used in un-impounded tributary streams and creeks. Seines are legal gear only in man-made impoundments and in major rivers to include the Alabama, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Tombigbee, Black Warrior, Mobile, Tensaw and Tennessee rivers. It is illegal to transport suckers caught in the Tennessee River watershed for bait to waters outside the Tennessee River watershed. Further, no suckers caught for bait outside the Tennessee River watershed shall be transported for bait into the Tennessee River watershed.

The use of any seine of larger proportions than herein provided is illegal, and the possession of a seine of larger proportions than herein provided in any public freshwater or on the bank of any such waters shall be prima facie evidence that such net is being used illegally. It is further made lawful to take mullet by cast net in freshwater. The daily creel and possession limit for mullet taken with a cast net will be the same as permitted under Marine Resources Regulation 220-3-.03. All game fish and all commercial or non-game fish, except mullet, as listed under Rules 220-2-.34 and 220-2-.45 taken by nets or seines as allowed under this regulation shall be immediately returned to the water from whence they came with the least possible injury.


220-2-.38 Taking of Suckers Permitted in Certain Counties

It shall be legal for sport fishermen holding a valid sport fishing license to take all species of suckers (see above) during any hour of the day or night by the use of gill or trammel nets with a mesh of one inch (1:) or more measured from knot to knot (stretch of two inches) in the public waters of Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike Counties during the months of February, March, and April, provided such nets are marked with buoys of floats visible above the waterline on which the owner's sport fishing license number is listed. Such nets may not be used for taking of suckers or any other fish in the following rivers and impoundments thereof located in the above counties:Conecuh River, Chattahoochee River, Choctawhatchee River, Patsaliga River, Pea River, Sepulga River, and Yellow River. Suckers taken under the provisions of this regulation are for personal use only and may not be sold, traded or bartered.

Bait Species

Many anglers have developed personnal ethics on the use of bait.  Bait that is not native to a water can cause problems to the native species.  Even commonly used bait such as golden shiners will eat eggs of other types of fish; this predation has caused problems to the largemouth bass populations in some ponds. Fathead minnows are the most commonly sold bait and are found throughout Alabama. 

Some native fish are used for bait, but the use of seines in streams is prohibited (see above) because some Alabama fish are rare, even though they may be abundant locally. Game fish may not be used for bait, except some sunfish (bream) may be used for bait. These bream must first be caught by legal means and the number of bream in possession must be within daily limits.  The suckers listed above may be used for bait, but carrying them into and out of the Tennessee basin is restricted (see above).  Gizzard shad, skipjack herring, threadfin shad, Gulf menhaden and mullet may be used for bait.

Fish that are illegal to possess and therefore illegal to use for bait include:

blueback herring
Alabama shad


walking catfish
black carp
Chinese perch
mud carp

spotfin chub
blackmouth shiner
blue shiner
Cahaba shiner
ironcolor shiner
palezone shiner
blotchside logperch
frecklebelly madtom
pygmy sculpin
spring pygmy sunfish
Alabama sturgeon
Gulf sturgeon
lake sturgeon
bankhead darter
boulder darter
brighteye darter
coldwater darter
crystal darter
goldline darter
holiday darter
lipstick darter
lollipop darter
rush darter
slackwater darter
slenderhead darter
snail darter
Tuscumbia darter
vermilion darter
watercress darter
Alabama cavefish
southern cavefish

and any species listed as
threatened or endangered
by the US Fish and Wildlife

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