- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - State lawmakers in Pierre are considering legislation that would make it legal for anglers in South Dakota to bait their hooks with bullheads.

State law classifies bullheads as game fish, which can’t be used as bait. Offenders can face a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Few anglers consider bullheads a game fish, however, and they’re allowed as bait in neighboring Minnesota under certain restrictions.

Rep. Dick Werner, R-Huron, introduced the South Dakota bill at the suggestion of a constituent, Jason Paul, of Lake Preston. Paul told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/15y3Url ) that he often travels to Minnesota to fish, and once caught a 46-pound catfish with a bullhead bait.

Paul uses approved bait to pursue catfish in South Dakota waters, but he said other live bait fish are harder to keep alive than the hardy bullhead.

“Finally, I said to some of my buddies, ‘Why don’t we try to call a legislator and see if we can get something rolling on this?’” Paul said. “I figured there’s probably nothing against it. It’s probably just something that’s never been thought of before.”

Werner mentioned the idea to wildlife officials in the state and said he got no strong resistance.

“So I thought, ‘What the heck. I’m going to file it,’” Werner said.

The bill passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

The state Department of Game, Fish and Parks has not yet taken a position on the bill.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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