Minnesota bait shops say harsh winter has left minnows in short supply

The harsh winter this past year is still having a ripple effect in the middle of summer on fishermen. Bait shops tell FOX 9 minnows are in short supply.

"The minnow supply is getting worse and worse this year," says Dave Christenson.

They say there's a sucker born every minute but at Blue Ribbon Bait and Tackle in Oakdale, they are practically an endangered species.

"For a bait shop not to have a minnow in a fishing state, just seems really it's kind of a silly thing."

General Manager Dave Christenson says his shop has dealt with minnow shortages for the last few years but this year it's particularly bad. He says distributors are having a tough time trapping suckers, crappies, and fatheads because of the harsh winter and spring flooding.

"I guess all the bait shops around are feeling like we are in the same boat feeling -- we don't have bait," explains Christenson. "It's like a shoe shop not having shoes to sell. It's kind of hard."

Christenson says compounding the problem is a state law that prohibits distributors from importing minnows from other states. The DNR says the law is in place to protect the Land of 10,000 Lakes from invasive species. It believes the minnow shortage will be short-lived.

Christenson says fishermen can use alternatives like nightcrawlers and leeches but that's not enough for him to let the state's minnow importation ban off the hook. "Lots of people come to Minnesota for fishing and if we don't have bait and the fishing industry dies, not only bait shops, hotels -- Minnesota's going to feel the effects of it."