Watch that bait box!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers to monitor their live bait purchases this Memorial Day holiday weekend to look for juvenile Asian carp.

“The DNR is doing many things to prevent adult Asian carp (bighead and silver) from entering the Great Lakes, but many people don’t realize that juvenile Asian carp pose a threat to the state’s waters as well,” said Nick Popoff, DNR fisheries biologist and regulatory affairs specialist.

According to Popoff, juvenile Asian carp can be confused with common baitfish, such as gizzard shad, emerald shiner, spottail shiner or golden shiner.

“Because bait is often transported across state lines, including from areas with breeding populations of Asian carp,” Popoff said, “it would be easy for juvenile Asian carp to make their way into the bait supply without anyone realizing it.”

To assist anglers and the public in identifying juvenile Asian carp, the DNR has developed a video that showcases five characteristics viewers can use to distinguish between juvenile Asian carp (bighead and silver) and common baitfish.

These characteristics include body color, scale pattern, shape and size, eye size and location on the head, mouth shape and location and the presence or absence of keels on the bottom side of the fish.

People can watch the video on the DNR’s Asian carp website at and the national Asian carp website at

The video also describes what anglers should do if they think they have a juvenile Asian carp – or any odd fish for that matter – in their bait buckets. Anglers are encouraged to keep questionable fish alive or freeze them and contact the DNR so the fish can be correctly identified. The DNR does not want questionable fish to be used as bait. Once anglers are done fishing, remaining baitfish should be disposed of in the trash.

The video is one of several items the DNR has developed to educate the public about Asian carp. For more information on this issue, please visit

– The Michigan Department of Natural Resources