Minnesota fishermen frustrated by live bait shortage

Updated: July 09, 2019 05:47 PM

The Land of 10,000 Lakes provides plenty of good spots for fishermen, but due to a live bait shortage, those fishing said it's not as easy as it used to be.

"This summer has been probably the worst," said Dave Christenson, the general manager of Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle in Oakdale.


It's not as easy right now for those who want to fish with live bait — like minnows or suckers.

"The supply just isn't there for the demand of minnows for what we need," said Christenson. 

Mother Nature is part of the problem. After some harsh winters where minnows and others commonly used for bait froze and died in ponds, there isn't as much bait to go around. 

"It's frustrating, we try to supply bait to everybody," said Christenson. "Fishing is supposed to be fun and happy, guys come in to get bait and they want minnows to go fishing. And it kind of hurts to a point that we can't supply people what they need, but it's out of our hands."

Those who fish said it's also the Minnesota fishing regulations that make it a little tricky. You can't import live minnows or leeches into Minnesota from outside the state.

RELATED: Bait shortage biting Minnesota fishermen

But for Charles Davis, the live bait shortage isn't an issue. He said he has a work-around.

"I use artificial bait," said Davis. "A lot of my friends use bait, but they're having trouble getting it. Sometimes I might use it but I'm that good; I don't need it anymore."

It might also be saving him money. With less supply and more demand, that equation is driving up live bait prices, almost another dollar or two for every dozen minnows.

Although Davis has a solution, it's still a hassle to fish with buddies who aren't on board with artificial bait.

"Then we have to drive farther to different bait shops looking for bait, that's more gas, just a hassle, so we make a lot of phone calls the day before," said Davis. 

The shortage could affect other areas of the local economy, too.

"We really need help for the small businesses, towns, restaurants; people aren't going to go to these places up north to fish," said Christenson.

Many are waiting for fishing regulations to change so they can get back to fishing at their favorite spots.

The DNR said there is a silver lining to all of this. On years with harsh weather, fish competing against minnows also die out, and that means it's possible they could come back stronger next season.

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Crystal Bui

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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