How to Make Your Own Minnow Trap

Updated July 19, 2017

A do-it-yourself minnow trap is an easy way to catch minnows for fishing bait and a fun activity that gets kids interested in fishing. You can build a minnow trap with minimal equipment and at little cost. Having a homemade minnow trap allows you to catch your own bait whenever you want to go fishing. The bait will always be fresh and less expensive than store-bought minnows. Plus, if you catch minnows from the same water you'll be fishing, there is no risk of introducing exotic minnow species.

Roll a piece of old window screen into a cone. The basal diameter must be less than the diameter of the coffee can. The height should be half the height of the can. Leave a 1-inch-wide opening in the tapered end so minnows can enter the trap. Use 30-gauge steel wire to stitch the cone together.

Flare out the base of the cone slightly. Put the flared base flush against the inside of the lid.

Poke holes through the lid around the cone with a thin nail. Stitch the cone to the lid with wire. Use a hot glue gun to strengthen the attachment.

Cut out the lid portion inside the window screen cone and discard.

Punch a hole through the can large enough to accept a length of rope or wire. This will be used to tether the can so it won't roll away with wave action.

Place stones inside the can to hold it down. Bait with oatmeal or breadcrumbs.

Lay the trap on its side in the water. Wedge it between rocks or logs to keep it from rolling. Good bets are shallow areas with weeds, rocks or gravel, which provide food and cover for minnows.

Tether the trap to an immovable object.

Check the trap daily.


Check your state's fishing regulations to learn the laws of catching minnows. Some states require you to put your name, address and fishing license number on the trap. There may be other regulations, such as the number of traps you are allowed to use and where you may place them.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee can with lid
  • Window screen mesh
  • 30-gauge steel wire
  • Knife
  • Nail
  • Hot glue gun
  • Stones
  • Oatmeal or breadcrumbs
  • Rope
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About the Author

Joe Shead is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor writing. He has written for numerous national and regional outdoor magazines on various topics from hunting to fishing to his pet subject, shed antler hunting.