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Q&A
Corn for Bait – Chumming
Question
During the last few years, I have seen more and more people using corn for bait. But it seems as if they are now being so bold as to sow the stream with handfuls at a time before casting their lines. I have always had the understanding corn cannot be digested by the trout and they would die from ingesting it. If this is the case, is it illegal to sow corn?
Answer
Commission fisheries biologist Tom Bender at our Benner Spring Fish Research Station conducted a study in 1992 that examined the impact of corn on trout. For the study, two groups of hatchery rainbow trout were held in separate tanks and tested for 54 days. In one tank, 20 rainbow trout (average size 8.3 inches) were fed a diet of whole kernel corn. In the second tank, 20 rainbow trout of the same size were fed a standard trout pellet diet.

During the 54 day study period, no mortalities occurred from trout of either study group. However, study results did show that the trout fed with a corn diet did not digest the corn particularly well. The growth observed by the corn-fed trout during the study period was only about half of that observed from the trout that were fed the standard trout pellet diet.

The conclusion from this study was that there appears to be little reason for concern about the short term health hazards for rainbow trout when whole kernel corn is used for bait. Although there are better diets for trout than whole kernel corn, this study confirms that mortality does not occur when trout ingest whole kernel corn.

You also asked about the practice of anglers using handfuls of corn to attract fish - a practice sometimes called "chumming." For waters managed under statewide regulations, chumming with corn or other bait to attract fish would be considered a legal practice, providing that anglers don't get carried away and liberally coat the bottom of the stream with corn. If this were the case, then it could be considered littering. The Commission does not recommend chumming.

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