ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Sea Grant's bait shop? University of Minnesota program researches ways to grow more golden shiners

Fish researchers hoping to produce a golden shiner for walleye bait in just one year instead of two.

Golden shiner
A golden shiner in a bait bag. Minnesota Sea Grant researchers are trying to grow a bait-size golden shiner, about 2-3 inches long, in just one year rather than the usual two, to alleviate a shortage of the popular and expensive walleye bait.
Contributed / Don Schreiner, Minnesota Sea Grant
We are part of The Trust Project.

DULUTH — The University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program is investigating new ways to grow more golden shiners, a popular but often hard-to-find and expensive bait minnow used by walleye anglers.

In Minnesota, golden shiners usually require two years to grow to maturity in the wild. Minnesota’s long, cold winters make raising them commercially in natural ponds challenging and expensive. Researchers are hoping to get a golden shiner to grow to walleye bait size, about 2-3 inches long, in just one year using both indoor and outdoor facilities.

“There is pressure from anglers, bait dealers and legislators to import golden shiners from other states," although that’s prohibited by Minnesota law due to disease concerns, said Don Schreiner, Minnesota Sea Grant fisheries specialist.

That's why Sea Grant, based in Duluth, stepped in to alleviate the shortage with homegrown shiners. The project could lead to more business opportunities for bait dealers as well as more bait for anglers. The 2018 United States Department of Agriculture Aquaculture Census reported that golden shiners were the most valuable baitfish produced in the U.S. with $16.4 million in total sales and more than 3.9 million pounds sold.

Sea Grant has multiple plans to get more golden shiners quicker, including using recirculating indoor tanks and another plan combining hydroponics, growing plants without soil, in conjunction with aquaponics, growing the little fish. Another project will start fish indoors and then move them to outdoor ponds in spring when they are so-called sac fry, still attached to their yolk sacks.

ADVERTISEMENT

The project is funded by a three-year, $188,000 grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

RELATED STORIES
Invading parasite decimated fish popualtions until a chemical poison was developed to kill their larvae.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
What to read next
Send us your big fish photos by email to outdoors@duluthnews.com.
The 119-year-old Stormy Kromer torch is passed to a woman for the first time.
Members Only
Conducted every five years since 1990, the survey originally was scheduled for the summer of 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retired teacher Larry Weber, a Barnum resident, is the author of several books, including “Butterflies of the North Woods,” “Spiders of the North Woods,” “Webwood” and “In a Patch of Goldenrods.” Contact him via Katie Rohman at krohman@duluthnews.com.