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Fish Netting & Trapping Rules

When using nets and traps, be aware of the legal collection methods and which species can be collected legally. The following diagrams show examples of common species and attributes to look for when identifying them. Must have a valid sportfishing license.

Legal collection methods

legal netting collection methods

Seine, cast net, trap, dip net.

Legal species

legal species for netting

Shiner, chub, dace, minnow, sucker, crayfish.

Illegal species

illegal species for netting

Sunfish, bass, catfish, pike.

Additional illegal species can be found in the Indiana Fishing Regulations Guide.

Minnows and crayfish are often collected from public waters for anglers to use as bait. In addition to collecting fish and crayfish with legal sport fishing methods (e.g., hook and line, trotline, or bowfishing where legal), nets like seines, cast nets, and dip nets as well as small traps can legally be used. Below is a summary of the rules on using nets and traps for the collection of certain fish species and crayfish.

Specific information on rules can be found in 312 IAC 9-7-15 Minnow Authority and 312 IAC 9-9-2 Crayfish Authority. (Article 9).

Key points

  • Anglers must have a valid sport fishing license to participate in fish netting and trapping.
  • Anglers can collect an unlimited number of minnows and crayfish at any time of the year, but they cannot be sold. Anglers must not transport beyond the limits of this state more than 100 minnows or crayfish in a 24-hour period unless they have a bait dealer’s license from the DNR.
  • Anglers can release fish back into the waters in which they were collected, but gizzard and threadfin shad and invasive species can not.
  • Need help identifying a fish? Look at Indiana’s fish species.
  • Our district fisheries biologists are available to answer collection questions.

Legal species


A minnow is defined by Indiana law (312 IAC 9-6-1) as:

  • A species of the minnow family Cyprinidae

    Selected common species:

    Creek chub

    minnow in hand

    Central Stoneroller

    Common Stoneroller fish

    Spotfin Shiner

    Spotfin Shiner fish

    Bluntnose Minnow

    minnow in hand

    • Central Stoneroller, Campostoma anomalum
    • Spotfin Shiner, Cyprinella spiloptera
    • Striped Shiner, Luxilus chrysocephalus
    • Redfin Shiner, Lythrurus umbratilis
    • Golden Shiner, Notemigonus crysoleucas
    • Emerald Shiner, Notropis atherinoides
    • Silverjaw Minnow, Notropis buccatus
    • Rosyface Shiner, Notropis rubellus
    • Sand Shiner, Notropis stramineus
    • Bluntnose Minnow, Pimephales notatus
    • Blacknose Dace, Rhinichthys atratulus
    • Creek Chub, Semotilus atromaculatus
    EXCEPT the following:

    Exotic species

    • Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella
    • Black Carp, Mylopharyngodon piceus
    • Silver Carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
    • Bighead Carp, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
    • Rudd, Scardinius erythrophthalmus

    Endangered species

    • Redside Dace, Clinostomus elongatus
    • Pallid Shiner, Hybopsis amnis
  • Sucker

    Selected common pictures and all legal species listed below:

    White Sucker

    White Sucker fish


    Quillback fish

    Shorthead Redhorse

    Shorthead Redhorse fish

    Northern Hog Sucker

    Northern Hogsucker fish

    • Carpiodes: River Carpsucker, Quillback, Highfin Carpsucker
    • Moxostoma: Silver Redhorse, Smallmouth Redhorse, River Redhorse, Black Redhorse, Golden Redhorse, Shorthead Redhorse
    • Hypentelium: Northern Hog Sucker
    • Catostomus: Longnose Sucker, White Sucker
    • Erimyzon: Western Creek Chubsucker, Lake Chubsucker
  • Other


    alewife fish in hand

    Anglers may collect live alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) from Lake Michigan and use it for bait only on Lake Michigan and must kill any alewife not used.

    Brook Stickleback


    Brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans) have 4-6 dorsal spines and can be found throughout the state whereas Threespine and Ninespine stickleback are confined to Lake Michigan drainages and have different number of spines.

  • Gizzard and Threadfin Shad

    Gizzard Shad

    Gizzard Shad fish

    Threadfin Shad

    Threadfin Shad fish

    Anglers can use live gizzard (Dorosoma cepedianum) and threadfin shad (D. petenense) at the following waters:

    • Cecil M Harden Lake
    • Monroe Lake
    • Patoka Lake
    • Lake Freeman
    • Lake Shafer
    • Hardy Lake
    • Ohio River main stem, excluding all embayments

    All other locations gizzard and threadfin shad must be killed and not possessed alive.


  • Crayfish


    • There is no daily limit on catching and taking crayfish, but there is a limit on transporting them beyond state lines. Anglers cannot transport more than 100 crayfish across state lines in a 24-hour period.
    • Anglers can use artificial light to take crayfish.
    • Anglers can use hands as a legal method to take crayfish in addition to nets or traps.
    • Do not release crayfish in any other location from where collected.
Legal methods for collectionInland Waters
Any inland waters or boundary waters except for the Ohio River. Anglers cannot collect in waters extending from a dam downstream 500 yards.
Ohio River
Excludes bays and tributaries. Anglers cannot collect in waters extending from a dam downstream 200 yards.
net thrown in air
Cast net
Cast nets cannot be more than 20 feet in diameter and must not have stretch mesh* larger than ¾ inch. Cast nets must not exceed more than 20 feet in diameter and must not have stretch mesh larger than ¾ inch.
dip net against table
Dip net
Dip nets must not exceed 3 square feet, without sides or walls, and must not have stretch mesh larger than ½ inch. Dip nets cannot exceed 3 feet in diameter.
seine against wallSeine Seines cannot be more than 12 feet long and 4 feet deep and must not have stretch mesh larger than ½ inch. Seines cannot exceed 30 feet long and 6 feet deep and must not have a mesh size larger than ¼ inch bar mesh.
man holding wire trap
Minnow trap
Minnow traps must not exceed 24 inches in length, and  the opening of the trap can be no larger than 2 inches in diameter (same for crayfish traps). Minnow traps must not exceed 3 feet long and 18 inches in diameter and must not have a throat opening greater than 1 inch in diameter.

* Stretch mesh means the extended distance or length between the extreme angles of a single mesh of net.

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