Anglers have been using live bait for countless years, as it has proved to be advantageous when luring most fish species. But, the morality of using live frogs as bait is questionable, which has led many animal lovers to wonder whether it is legal in the United States.
Some states allow using live frogs as bait, depending on species, permits, licenses, limitations, and regulations. However, using live frogs as bait is inhumane and threatens their already declining population. It is best to use innovative fishing lures that imitate live frogs as alternatives.
Even if it is legal, using live frogs to catch fish is not the best approach. The modern world has gifted enthusiasts with many practical and inexpensive options to consider before choosing to sacrifice one life for another. Join us as we discuss the legality of using live frogs as bait in the United States and why this method should be avoided.
Is It Legal To Use Live Frogs As Bait?
It is legal to use frogs as live bait in certain states with limitations. Connecticut, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota allow fishing with live bait but species, permits, licenses, limitations, and regulations apply.
Some states allow the use of live bait for fishing, and it is illegal in others. For context, below are some US states and where they stand on using live frogs as bait:
|Connecticut||Many frog species||Northern Leopard Frogs|
|Missouri||Southern Leopard Frogs, Plains Leopard Frogs, Cricket Frogs, Bullfrogs and Green Frogs under season limits and methods||Unlisted frog species|
Frogs captured in excess or against hunting methods
|Iowa||Many frog species||Protected frog species|
|North Dakota||Native frogs||Illegal in some water areas|
|Pennsylvania||Legal with certain seasons |
Possession limits apply
|Frog species listed as endangered or threatened, and those with zero possession limits|
|Minnesota||Legal to use frogs up to 6 inches in length with an angling license||Illegal to transport listed live frogs without MN DNR license or use frogs over 6 inches without a permit|
|New Mexico||Dead Bullfrogs, Dead Bullfrog Tadpoles||Live Bullfrogs, Live Bullfrog Tadpoles|
|California||No||Using frogs as bait|
|Wisconsin||Native Wisconsin Frogs with specific licences||May not be taken with firearms or airguns|
Note: This content above is provided for information purposes only and may not be up to date. See our Terms for more information. Original sources provided below.
Most states list legal fish species for live bait or disclose that hunting certain frog species is legal for purposes other than baiting. Even if it is legal, there are regulations concerning species, if, when, and how they can be captured and used. Always check your local natural resource department websites or contact your local wildlife departments for up-to-date information and to ensure you understand the laws in your jurisdiction (CTNF).
Just Because it’s Legal to Fish With Live Frogs Doesn’t Mean You Should
Even though it may be technically legal to use live frogs as bait, there are many reasons why this method should be avoided at all costs. Excellent fake top-water frog lures exist to provide an unparalleled fishing experience without killing frogs.
Here are some reasons why fishing with frogs as live bait is not practical:
|Fishing Characteristic||Live Bait Frog||Fake Bait Frog|
|Needs to be Caught||Yes||No|
|Messy to Handle||Yes||No|
|Snags in Vegetation||Yes||No|
|May Swim Away||Yes||No|
Anglers generally use live frogs for topwater bass fishing and claim it is ethical and works incredibly well. Yet live frogs are pretty gross to toss and reel, they get snagged in vegetation, and come apart while fishing with them. You have to spend time catching them wasting a bunch of time for fishing.
Catching and using the wrong frog or tadpole species, not having the correct licences, and transporting too many frogs at the same time can also get you into legal trouble if you get caught.
Therefore, knowing that you can theoretically, or legally do something does not necessarily mean that you should. Fishing with live frogs is not practical, especially when better alternatives exist.
Various frog species have been struggling to maintain their population for quite some time. Their habitats have been slowly diminishing for years as local natural areas are replaced with modern infrastructures. Pollution and disease also influence their ability to reproduce, in addition to human activity such as hunting or fishing.
Although safely caught-and-released fish have good chances of survival, frogs or tadpoles used as live bait have no chances of survival.
Many anglers catch frogs to use as bait including tadpoles, small, and premature frogs, harming multiple frogs in the process. Some people may take too many frogs under the impression that they will not harm the ecosystem. All of these small actions have a huge impact on ecosystems within the grand scheme of things.
Better Live Frog Bait Alternatives Exist
Although it may be natural for a fish to eat a frog, there are still a few contradictions to this sort of reasoning. Nature’s circle of life prepares to cover the losses of such events since frogs lay hundreds or thousands of eggs. If a fish happens to feed on a local frog, froglet, or tadpole this is based on survival within their shared habitat.
Stringing live frogs to lines and putting them out to squirm as they helplessly await their fate is cruel. It is inhumane, and unfair to the frogs, as they have no chance of survival like they would in natural circumstances.
Using live frogs as bait may have been the best way for anglers to catch a meal without wasting resources a couple of hundred years ago. But, urbanization, deforestation, climate change, and other factors encroaching on frogs were not an abundant problem back then.
The modern ages have gifted anglers and bass fishing enthusiasts with plenty of innovative lures and bait products, some of which have been equipped with very realistic features including moving legs, water spouts, and more.
Many manufacturers produce lures that have the look and smell of live bait, resembling common and small frog species. Many of these lures even have flash or movement mechanics that trick fish into thinking it is still alive. These options are incredibly effective as live frog alternatives.
I love using fake topwater frogs for fishing because they are easy to cast, never get snagged in vegetation and are super easy to handle. And it’s so much better for our natural ecosystems to avoid unnecessarily killing frogs.
More About Frog Hunting & Fishing
Of course, frogs are not the only animals struggling, as most creatures continue to fight for survival in a human-dominated world. All wildlife should be preserved as much as possible, which demands some humility and creativity on our part. While it may be legal in some areas, frogs are not as abundant as many people may believe, and taking a frog’s life just to catch a fish is not worth it when you have access to better alternatives.
Learn more about frog hunting and fishing on our blog:
- Frogging, Frog Hunting & Gigging: Everything There is to Know
- Do Frogs Eat Worms?
- What do Frogs Legs Taste Like?
- How to Get Rid of Frogs
- How to Safely Relocate Frogs
- How to Safely Catch Frogs
Common Questions About Fishing With Frogs
Can you use life frogs as bait in Ontario? By law, you need a valid fishing licence to catch and use Northern Leopard Frogs as live bait with up to 12 max at a time in Ontario. However, using live frogs as bait is inhumane and threatens their already declining population. Use fake fishing lures that imitate live frogs as alternatives.
Can you use life frogs as bait in California? Frogs are not listed as bait fish species that may be transported or sold under the provisions of a Live Freshwater Bait Fish License by Section 200.13 of Title 14, California Code of Regulations. Therefore, frogs cannot be used as live bait in California where many species are protected.
Can you use life frogs as bait in Wisconsin? Native Wisconsin frogs can be used used for bait but you must possess one of the following licenses: “Fishing, Small Game, Sports, Conservation Patron, Setline*, or Set or Bank Pole.” However, using live frogs as bait is inhumane and threatens their already declining population. Use fake fishing lures that imitate live frogs as alternatives.
California, Inland Fisheries – Informational Leaflet No. 7