DOES CORN HARM FISH?
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And is it legal to use?
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"Why do you use corn as bait? I thought it was illegal to use because it harms or kills the fish?"
Thanks for the question, Jolene. I think you've asked the question that has been on a few people's minds, because I've had a few variations of this question since I posted about my experiences with Shoepeg and Peaches and Cream corn.
Let's dive in.
This question has three parts:
Is it illegal to fish with corn?
This depends on how you use it and where you use it.
The BC Fishing Regulations do not mention corn, in any context. "Bait" is defined (on page 9 of the 2019-2021 Freshwater Fishing Regulations) as "any foodstuff or natural substance used to attract fish, other than wood, cotton, wool, hair, fur or feathers... It includes roe, worms, and other edible substances..." Since corn is an edible, natural substance, it appears to be included in the definition of 'bait.'
Of course, you have to use bait when and as allowed. Some lakes have bait bans. If you are fishing on a lake with a bait ban, using corn or any other bait would be illegal.
I think there is some confusion about whether corn is illegal because some people link it to chumming. "Chumming" means to dump bait or other attractants into the water to attract fish. Corn, worms, shrimp, and other bait have been used for chumming. Chumming with any substance is illegal in BC. Don't dump corn or other substances into the water to attract fish.
I'll insert my standard disclaimers. One: I am referencing the 2019-2021 BC freshwater fishing regulations. If you are fishing outside of British Columbia, check the relevant regulations in your area. Two: Regulations can change. Always check the most recent regulations before fishing.
Does corn harm fish?
Some people say that fish cannot digest corn, and that if a fish pulls a kernel of corn off the hook, the corn will become lodged in their intestines and they will die.
I found a study from the Benner Spring Fish Research Station that took two tanks of trout (averaging 8.3 inches and weighing 0.23 pounds) and fed one tank nothing but corn, and fed the other tank standard fish food. Although there were signs that the fish weren't digesting the corn particularly well, no fish died (in either tank) during the 54-day observation period. It's true that the fish who were fed corn didn't grow as well, averaging about 0.8 inches smaller and 0.12 pounds less than the fish who were fed fish food. Keep in mind, though, that these fish ate nothing but corn for nearly two months. So I'll agree that eating a 100% corn diet isn't good for fish, but I don't think there's reason to think that any harm comes from pulling a single kernel off a hook.
Why do you use corn as bait?
The answer to this one is quite simple- I use it because it works! Some people use it straight out of the can, while others use different scents such as tuna, garlic and an array of others. I use Pautzke nectar, anise krill oil and garlic on occasion.