Ice Fishing Outreach

Are You Ice Fishing with Live Minnows?
If So, Please Help Stop the Spread of AIS.

Many of the lakes are buzzing with ice fishing enthusiast, including myself, and ice fishing tournaments. While we are on the ice drilling holes or netting a minnow from the bait bucket, please keep in mind that AIS can spread during the winter. The water and live minnows in our bait buckets can transport small invasive species as well as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), which is deadly to fish. Plants, muck and other debris that appear on our augers and lures should be removed and left on the lake.   If you are not sure what to do with your leftover live bait and/or are confused about the bait laws, please keep reading.
Wisconsin’s bait laws help protect our waterbodies from the spread of AIS,
If you plan to purchase live bait: 

  • You must purchase live minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer.
  • Minnows can be transported in the amount of water needed to keep them alive, up to 2 gallons.

If you have leftover purchased minnows, you can legally reuse them again if:

  • They are reused on the same waterbody. or
  • On a different waterbody as long as no lake or river water or other fish or aquatic organisms were added to the minnow container.

If you do not plan to use your leftover purchased minnows:

  • Please note that is  illegal to dump minnows or other live bait on the ice or into a waterbody from which they were not harvested.
  • Instead, dispose of unwanted bait in the trash can at the boat landing or access point. or
  • Take them home and properly dispose of them in the trash. Consider adding dead bait in the compost or garden for fertilizer.

How does the rule apply to tournaments that wish to have an offsite weigh in?

  • Tournaments may not transport live fish to an offsite weigh in unless they have a tournament permit from the WDNR that specifically allows the transport. If allowed, the permit will contain appropriate restrictions and conditions such as all tournament participants who will be transporting live fish must have a copy of the permit while transporting them.

Please remember the Wisconsin law requires you to:
INSPECT your boat, trailer, and equipment.
REMOVE any attached aquatic plants or animals (before launching, after loading, and before transporting on a public highway)
DRAIN all water from boats, motors and all equipment
NEVER MOVE live fish away from a waterbody.
DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash
BUY minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer. Use leftover minnows only under certain conditions*
*You may take leftover minnows away from any state water and use them again on that same water. You may use leftover minnows on other waters only if no lake or river water or other fish were added to their container. 

For more information about Wisconsin’s bait laws, please click on the link to the DNR’s  Bait Laws for Boaters and Anglers
See you on the ice.


Oneida County’s Ice Angler AIS Outreach Project, 2012-2018       
In 2012, Oneida County Land & Water Conservation Department (LWCD) debuted their ‘Ice Angler AIS Outreach’ project.    For seven winter weekends, an AIS team member traveled to ice fishing tournaments and area lakes that experience heavy ice fishing pressure, to discuss AIS with ice anglers, provide outreach, and ask anglers to participate in an eleven-question survey to help the LWCD understand this demography. In 2013, LWCD was awarded a Wisconsin Environmental Education Board grant for the continuation of the Ice Angler AIS Outreach project.  This grant funded an ‘AIS Shack’ (with heater), two outreach flags, employee wages and mileage.  This poster details the 2012-2018 project, survey results, and the future of ice angler outreach in Oneida County.

Here are the 2012-2018 Oneida County AIS Ice Angler Survey Results 


Oneida County’s Ice Angler AIS Outreach Poster Presentation, presented by Stephanie Boismenue and Thomas Boisvert, during the 2018 WI Lakes Partnership Convention, Stevens Point, WI
Here is the 2012-2014 Oneida County AIS Ice Angler Survey Results 

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File Type: pdf

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