Fishing With Corn: Where It’s Legal & Where It’s Illegal

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Ever since I’ve been fishing I’ve heard that using corn is illegal because it’s bad for the fish and they can’t digest it. I thought that kind of made sense but as it turns out that might not be the case.

From what I could find, using corn to fish is perfectly legal in all provinces and states (except Rhode Island). You can use corn to fish as long as it’s on a hook but there are more strict rules about dumping large amounts of corn in the water (known as chumming). Some states such as California and Colorado don’t allow you to chum using corn.

I don’t normally like using corn anyway just because it falls off the hook super easily but there is definitely a time and a place to use it. I’ll include a full list of which places allow it and which don’t below.

Is Corn Safe For Fish?

I always thought corn was bad for fish because they couldn’t digest it. That’s what I was always told when I was a kid but after doing some research that might not be the case at all.

According to some Biologist and fisheries, there really isn’t any evidence to say corn is bad for fish. I’d imagine it’s not the best for them because it doesn’t offer any nutritional value and it’s not the easiest thing to digest (even for humans) but it’s not going to kill them.

Just think about all the things they’re already eating. Metal, plastic, Powerbait, and who knows what else. I’m pretty positive corn is not that big of a deal. If that’s their only source of food then there will be problems, but the occasional kernel of corn is perfectly fine.

The reason chumming with corn isn’t allowed in some places is more along the lines of fisheries not wanting the water filled with corn. People used to dump barrels of corn under docks and it would make a mess. There really isn’t any evidence that says chumming with corn is killing fish or is bad for the environment as you can see in the Utah Division of Wildlife article.

I would say though to check if your area allows it and then be reasonable with it. A handful of corn in your fishing area is fine but there’s no need to dump hundreds of pounds of corn in the waters. Also, if you’re planning on releasing the fish then probably avoid using corn. They tend to swallow real bait like that which can possibly kill them anyway. Use artificial lures if this is the case.

What Kind Of Fish Will Eat Corn?

It’s possible to catch pretty much anything using corn if they’re hungry enough but certain fish like it more. Here are the fish that seem to be attracted to corn the most:

  • Catfish.
  • Carp.
  • Kokanee.
  • Trout.
  • Crappie.
  • Perch.
  • Bluegill.

Corn & Hook Laws

The good news is that it’s legal to use a piece of corn on a hook in pretty much all areas. The only exclusion (at the time of writing this) is Rhode Island. All other states and provinces allow fishing with corn and a hook.

Again, I’d probably only recommend this if you’re planning on keeping and eating the fish. They sometimes swallow the hook when there’s corn or a worm on it and when you try to take it out it could do some damage to the fish (and will probably die).

You might want to quickly double-check but this is what I could see from the research I did. Things are slightly different though when it comes to the rules about chumming with corn.

Chumming With Corn Laws

If your area allows you to chum the water with corn, be reasonable about it. Don’t be dumb and dump buckets everywhere because it’ll make a mess and won’t be good for anyone. It’s not going to be good if the fish are eating too much of it and it’s not going to be enjoyable if people are also swimming in the area. A couple of handfuls is all you need to get the job done.

Here are the places where chumming with corn is NOT allowed:

  • California.
  • Colorado.
  • Hawaii.
  • Idaho.
  • Kentucky.
  • Maine.
  • Michigan.
  • Minnesota.
  • Nevada.
  • North Dakota.
  • Oregon.
  • Rhode Island.
  • South Carolina.
  • Utah.
  • Vermont.

All of the other places either said it was allowed or there was no mention of it being illegal (so we can assume it’s fine). Again, be sure to double-check because things can change.

What To Use For Fishing Besides Corn?

Like I was saying before, I don’t generally like to fish with corn because it falls off the hook too much and I normally catch and release (about 70% of the time). If you’re going to release the fish then use an artificial lure and possibly even barbless hooks. If you’re going to be keeping the fish then here are some corn alternatives:

  • Millet & hemp seeds (for chumming).
  • Worms.
  • Minnows.
  • Crickets.
  • Leeches.
  • Powerbait (only use if you’re keeping).
  • Artificial lures & flies (my favorite).

There you have it. Using corn is one of the easier and cheaper ways to catch fish and is allowed in most places. Don’t go overboard with it and what I like to do is use canned corn and add boiling water to make it as soft as possible. It’s just a precaution but I’d way rather do that and see the fish get bigger for next time.

Happy fishing. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. This site is where I test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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