Minnows are tiny freshwater fish that live in shallow water. They’re also known as baitfish because once caught they can be used to attract other, larger, more desirable fish.
Learning to catch minnows is a fantastic idea if you want easy access to live bait.
But because minnows are so small, the catching process can be slightly difficult.
It’s best to use a trap with a fine mesh, or you might find the minnows are slipping through your grasp.
To find the best ways to catch minnow, check out our guide.
Surprisingly, for one of the best methods, all you need is a couple of soda bottles!
What Is The Best Way To Catch Minnows?
The best way to catch minnows is with the use of a trap. Minnows are small freshwater fish that are often used as bait themselves, so they have to be netted, not hooked.
Once you’ve mastered catching minnow, then you have access to a cheap and abundant source of bait.
Minnows are found in their hundreds in ponds, rivers, and creeks. One of the hardest parts of trapping minnows is finding them in the first place.
But where they’re abundant, you can often see minnow swimming past the shallows.
Ready-made traps and nets for minnows are available, but it’s also cheap and easy to make your own. Below, we’ll cover some of the best methods for trapping minnow.
Building Your Own Minnow Trap
A cheap but surprisingly effective method for minnow-catching involves making your own trap from two soda bottles.
Get hold of two soda bottles of the same size. From one soda bottle, cut away the top third of the bottle, below the funnel.
From the second bottle, cut away the bottom third. Keep the top sections of both bottles: the shorter funnel section, and the longer funnel section. Discard the bottom sections.
Remove the bottle cap from the smaller section, and discard. Insert the smaller section into the larger section, so the funnels are both facing the same way.
To attach the bottles, either use a strong hole punch, scissors, or a heated nail. Poke holes around the cut edges of the bottles, making sure the holes go through both pieces of plastic.
Attach the two bottles together using cord. Use either a single running stitch of cord, or individual stitches and a needle to thread a piece of fishing line through the holes around the bottle. Tie off the ends of the line.
Poke holes through the base of the bottle trap, large enough that water can flow through, but small enough that minnows can’t.
Add bread or cracker crumbs to the trap via the funnel for bait, and add rocks to sink the trap. Secure the lid back to the funnel, and tie a length of cord securely around the neck of the bottle.
You now have a homemade minnow trap!
Sink the trap in your preferred spot, and tie the other end of the cord securely to a tree or dock.
Minnows are attracted to the bait, swim in through the opening, but can’t get back out again. After 24 hours, collect your minnow by opening the lid to the funnel and pouring the fish into the bait bucket.
Clean the bottle out, and go again.
Using A Seine
A seine is a fine mesh net that’s traditionally used to catch minnows. A seine is more expensive than a homemade trap but generally works quicker. They can be purchased online, or from some fishing supply retailers.
Prepare the seine with two wooden boards or sticks, slightly longer than the seine net itself. Sharpen the end of the wooden sticks, so they can be driven into the ground.
Tie the edges of the seine to the sticks using cord or rope. Alternatively, staple the net to the sticks.
Head to your chosen spot on the stream. It should be an area where minnows are prevalent, and preferably where they have to swim around or over obstructions.
Using the sharp end of the sticks, set the seine so the net is stretched across the water. Make sure it’s stable, and then wait for ten to fifteen minutes.
Once this time is up, lift the seine from the water. The minnows should be stuck in the netting, and you can knock them into your minnow bucket.
Other Minnow Traps
Ever headed out fishing, only to realize you’ve forgotten your bait? Rather than having to head back, or hope there’s a friendly fisherman with a willingness to share nearby, you could always try catching your own. And you can do it without any other equipment.
In a pinch, a shirt and some saliva can be used to catch minnow. Head out into the water, until it comes to about waist height. Hold up the front of your shirt, until it forms a basic net shape.
Now, spit into the water above the shirt. Minnows are known to be attracted to spit, and they should head towards it. Simply raise the shirt to trap the minnows, and carry them back to shore.
Or, use an old shirt to build a net. Sew the sleeves and neck so there’s only one entrance hole, and bait it with bread.
A Fine Mesh Net
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If you have a fine enough mesh net, then this can be used to trap minnows. Hold the net below the surface of the water, and sprinkle your bait on the surface.
The minnows should swarm to the bread. Quickly lift the net out of the water, trapping the minnows, and tip them into your bucket. Repeat, until you have all the baitfish you want.
What Is The Best Bait For Minnows?
Minnows are fairly easy to catch using standard household foods. Bits of bread and crackers, corn meal, bagels, and instant mash are all good choices.
Cut up hot dogs also work well, as do other types of lunch meat. Both dry and wet dog food (or cat food) can attract minnow.
Using Minnows For Bait
Minnows can be tricky to hook because of their size. Either hook them through the lip or tail, or use a threader to insert the hook with minimal damage.
Once you’ve found the right place for minnows, trapping them is a relatively easy process. A homemade trap is cheap and effective, but if you’re after quick results, use a seine.