Plenty of anglers use corn as bait, most commonly for carp but also for species as diverse as crappie, bluegill, and kokanee (non-migrating salmon).
Not only is corn cheap and readily available, but it’s also easy to rig on a hook and cost-effective. And plenty of fish will take it if you let it settle to the bottom, where its brought color and sweet smell are sure to attract attention.
But many anglers aren’t sure about the legality of fishing with corn. Still more are confused about using corn as bait versus chum, and even more about whether corn is actually bad for fish.
We’ll cover each of these topics, setting the record straight.
So if you want to know more about fishing with corn, keep reading!
Table of Contents (clickable)
Related: Fishing With Hotdogs
Is it Legal to Fish with Corn?
In almost all states, the answer is yes.
As far as we’re aware, the only state that forbids the use of corn as bait is Rhode Island.
Everywhere else, you can bait a hook with corn and have at it! You might want to give your local department of wildlife management a call, just to be sure, but you’re almost certainly in the clear.
Is it Legal to Chum with Corn?
This is a more complicated matter, and chumming with corn is not nearly as legally accepted as baiting a hook with it is.
Chumming is the practice of throwing an attractant, like corn, into the water to draw fish toward you and get them feeding aggressively.
States where chumming with corn is prohibited include:
- California (with the exception of Salton Sea)
- Nevada (with the exception of Lake Mead)
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Utah (with the exception of Lake Powell)
You can legally chum with corn in:
- Alaska (with the exception of Bristol Bay)
- New Mexico
- New York
Does Corn Harm Fish?
The idea that corn is harmful has little to do with the nutritional elements of corn but rather with its digestibility.
Cooked kernels of corn shouldn’t be an issue for fish.
The tough husk of a corn kernel isn’t easy to process in a fish’s gut, and it’s possible for it to cause an intestinal blockage that leads to illness or death.
This has been studied in relatively controlled conditions.
As the Chrome Catchers, hard-core Kokanee fanatics report, “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.”
In fact, no lesser authority than the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recommends the use of corn as bait for both trout and carp.
As long as you use cooked corn, there shouldn’t be any real risk to fish.