Despite all the new and innovative tackle sold every year in North America, fishing with live bait still catches over 50% of freshwater game fish. Anglers prefer to use live bait such as minnows, worms, leeches and frogs under certain conditions and at certain times of the year. Fishing with vertebrates (minnows, frogs) can present a number of ethical challenges since most people acknowledge that frogs feel pain and distress, and many believe fish do as well.
This disturbing video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ_GpPSOy2g&sns=em may help you decide if you want to use live baitfish.
The province of Saskatchewan does not allow live fish, frogs or salamanders to be used as bait. Quebec and Alberta outlaw the use of live baitfish. Most other provincial jurisdictions in Canada outlaw releasing live commercially purchased minnows into waterways so most anglers dispose of them onshore. Fish out of water suffocate, much like people drowning.
Fishing with live non-vertebrates such as worms, night crawlers, leeches and grubs can be an option since scientists agree that these animals feel no pain. Keep in mind however that about 25% of trout caught on natural and scented baits die after release, compared with less than 4% of those caught on flies and lures. Anglers are generally encouraged to voluntarily fish with unbaited lures because more fish may be hooked in the lip or mouth. Hooking mortality is generally higher for fish hooked in the gill area and stomach region (Alberta Gov.). Avoid deep hooking while fishing with invertebrate live baits by using appropriately sized barbless J, circle or offset hooks.
A Norwegian company (Polybait AS) makes and sells a product ( KVALVIK) based on natural ingredients that substitutes fish as bait and is an environmentally and ethically sound alternative to live bait. The company hopes to be retailing its products in Canada and the US in the near future.
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