Minnow Dealer License
A minnow dealer license allows for the taking, possessing, buying, and selling of minnows from public waters that can be legally accessed. Leeches are considered and defined as minnows. A minnow dealer can sell minnows at one retail outlet under their minnow dealer license, but must obtain a minnow retailer license for each additional retail outlet where minnows are sold at retail. An aquatic farm or private fish hatchery licensee that purchases a minnow dealer endorsement and chooses to sell minnows at retail must list the address of one minnow retail outlet on their license. Vehicles used to transport more than 12 dozen minnows must be licensed as minnow dealer vehicles. An Exporting Minnow Dealer License is required to export minnows out of the state.
Harvesting Minnows in Designated Infested Waters
Minnow harvest is prohibited in designated infested waters, except under a permit. Permits are available for minnow harvest in waters designated as infested with Eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, spiny waterflea, faucet snail, and/or zebra mussel. Issuance of these permits requires attending a training class once every three years, and passing a yearly exam. Permit applications not received by March 1 will not be accepted until the following year. Minnow Dealer employees who wish to work in designated infested waters need to complete yearly online Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) training in order to receive a certificate to harvest minnows in designated infested waters.
Harvesting Minnows in Designated Trout Waters
Minnow harvest is prohibited in designated trout waters, except under a permit. For more information or to apply for a permit to harvest minnows from designated trout waters, please contact your Regional Fisheries Manager.
Harvesting Minnows within Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)
Minnow harvest is prohibited within the boundaries of WMAs, except under a permit. For more information or to apply for a permit to harvest minnows within WMAs, please contact your Area Wildlife Manager.
Fish Health Inspection and Certification
Rainbow Smelt, Cisco, and minnows on the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) list of species affected by Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) may only be harvested from lakes that have tested negative for VHS in the past year.
There are two labs in the state of MN that can perform a fish health inspection:
- The MN DNR Pathology Laboratory
- The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
You can also choose to use any accredited testing laboratory located out-of-state.
As part of your minnow dealer license renewal, you must complete and return an Annual Report of Live Bait Sales. This report must be submitted even if no production or sales occurred during the licensing period.
$310 – Minnow Dealer License
$15/vehicle – Minnow Dealer Vehicle License (one vehicle license is required)
Variable – Fish Health Inspections (when applicable)
Request an Application
Click here to request a license application.
License Renewal Information
License renewal packets will be mailed out to all current minnow dealer licensees in January. You can renew your license by completing and returning the enclosed license application.
Optional permit applications
Bait Preservation Permit (233.77 K, 2 pages)
Questions? Contact us!
Paula Phelps, Aquaculture and Fish Health Consultant