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Bait, Bait Use and Aquatic Invasive Species

Bait use in Aquatic Invasive Species Control Zones (updated February 6, 2020): When using live bait in a control zone water body, only bring the live bait you are going to use in that water body. Keep the rest of the live bait, for example, in a motor vehicle so it can be used in another water body. Bait you possess MUST be discarded before you leave the shore of Aquatic Invasive Species Control Zone if it is:

  • live
  • has been handled (i.e., hooked) or
  • has come into contact with surface water from the control zone.
The live-bait disposal requirement applies even if you have a valid 3-day live bait fish-transfer-and-use receipt. Also all water from the bait container must be drained before leaving the shore.

Commercially-supplied dead bait that has not come into contact with water from a waterbody in an AIS Control Zone can be retained by anglers for future use.


Possession of crayfish is prohibited in Manitoba. Crayfish, or what may commonly be referred to as “crawdads” or “crawfish,” cannot be used as bait.

The Manitoba Fishery Regulations, 1987 Section 14(1), under the federal Fisheries Act

What can be used as bait?

When angling the following may be used as bait: earthworms, night crawlers, leeches, frogs, salamanders, yellow perch, goldeye or mooneye caught by recreational fishing, baitfish or previously frozen smelt. Baitfish is defined as chub, shiner, mudminnow, sucker, trout-perch, stickleback, fathead minnow, bluntnose minnow, tullibee (cisco), sculpin, darter, or dace.

It is also NOT recommended to purchase frozen fish from a grocery store to use as bait. In some cases, harmful diseases not killed by the freezing process, can spread to native fish.

For more information on bait, bait use or locations where live bait can be used please refer to the Manitoba Anglers’ Guide.

Link to the Anglers’ Guide

Set fines for AIS offences are in effect year-round.

Enforcement officers may issue a ticket with a set fine for an offence that may introduce or spread aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Manitoba.  Individuals and corporations can now face set fine for a variety of offences. Set fines range from $174 to $2,542 and are in effect year-round.

Fines under the Preset Fines and Offence
Descriptions Regulation

Examples of offences and set fine amounts for individuals are below:

AIS Offenses Under The Water Protection Act 

Fine amount

Failure to possess a Transportation Authorization until watercraft or water-related equipment has been decontaminated


Failure to remove the drain plug or valve when transporting watercraft overland (with the exception of plugs used in onboard kitchen or washroom facilities)


Failure to drain the water from water-related equipment before leaving the shore of the water body

Failure to be free of AIS, aquatic plant and water prior to launching into a water body


Failure to put remaining bait that was used in an AIS Control Zone in the trash before leaving the shore of the water body


Failure for an operator of a motor vehicle transporting a watercraft to proceed directly to a watercraft inspection station

Possessing an aquatic invasive species in Manitoba


Failure to ensure water-related equipment is dried completely (or decontaminated) before placing into another water body

Depositing or releasing an aquatic invasive species into Manitoba


Failure to decontaminate watercraft or water-related equipment used in an AIS Control Zone prior to placing the equipment into another water body

Are you compliant with provincial AIS requirements? Find out what the AIS requirements are in the open water season and the winter (ice-covered) season.

Media Release

Need more information? Call 1-87 STOP AIS-0 (1-877-867-2470)
and visit the Manitoba Anglers’ Guide.

What are Invasive Species?

Organisms (animals, plants, parasites, viruses etc) not native to a region that when introduced, either intentionally or accidentally, out-compete native species for available resources. Invasive species become successful in their new environments due to their high reproductive rates and absence of native predators and diseases. Invasive species can have negative economic, social, environmental and human health implications.

What are Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)?

An aquatic invasive species (AIS) can either live in freshwater or marine environments. The majority of the species of concern to Manitoba, such as Zebra and Quagga mussels, Spiny Waterflea, Rusty Crayfish and Asian Carp are freshwater species. Manitoba currently has 15 aquatic invasive species. This number is small compared to the number of aquatic invasive species found in the Great Lakes (>200) and Mississippi (> 120) drainage basins.

Zebra Mussels in Manitoba

Zebra Mussels were confirmed in Lake Winnipeg in the fall of 2013 and the Red River and Cedar Lake 2015.

Zebra Mussels are small (1 - 3 cm), clam-like aquatic animals that are a significant environmental and economic concern to Manitoba. Native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Zebra Mussels have caused millions of dollars in damage to the Laurentian Great Lakes area and have cost the North American economy billions of dollars to control. Despite the successful eradication of Zebra Mussels in the four treated harbours in Lake Winnipeg in 2014, Zebra Mussels were found elsewhere in the south basin and are successfully reproducing. Lake Winnipeg is in the early stages of invasion by Zebra Mussels – eradication is no longer an option.

Adult Zebra Mussels have a shell and can strongly attach to water-based conveyances such as watercraft, trailers, water-based aircraft, ORVs and other water-related equipment. They can survive out of water for 7 to 30 days depending on temperature and humidity.

Larval Zebra Mussels, called veligers, passively move downstream by water movement and are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers rely on water to survive thus they can be inadvertently carried in small amounts of water transported by un-drained watercraft, water-based aircraft, ORVs and water-based equipment such as bait buckets.

Once Zebra Mussels become established they cannot be eradicated, so it is extremely important to stop their spread.

An adult Zebra Mussel
An adult Zebra Mussel

Micorsocopic Zebra Mussel veligers found in a small sample of water
Microscopic Zebra Mussel veligers found in a small sample of water

All Water Users – Stop the Spread of Zebra Mussels

CLEAN + DRAIN + DRY your watercraft, trailer and all water-related equipment and
DISPOSE of any unwanted bait in the trash.

Zebra Mussels Can Hide Here