How to set a minnow trap

Updated April 09, 2017

Instead of buying live bait from a baitshop, fishermen can catch their own minnows from the water using a trap. Minnows are a freshwater fish and typically swim in large schools, making large quantities easy to trap. Minnow traps are sold at sporting goods stores or you can make your own using plastic soda bottles or wire mesh. Minnow traps have a small opening for the minnow to see the bait and swim inside. Once in the trap, minnows become confused and cannot escape.

Select a location for your minnow trap. Choose a location near a dock post or tree where you can anchor the trap. Shady, shallow locations work best, as minnows tend to congregate in those areas. The location should be shallow enough so that the top of your trap pokes out of the water.

Place bait inside the trap. Common minnow bait includes balled-up bread, wet cat or dog food or shrimp heads. Bread is the most economical option--simply take a slice of bread and roll it up into a ball. If you're using wet pet food, one scoop will do.

Tie a piece of rope to the minnow trap. The rope should be long enough to reach a dock or a tree from your selected location. Tie the other end of the rope to the tree or dock.

Place the trap in the water. If the body of water is inclined to tides, place the trap during low tide. Leave the trap in the water for a few hours or overnight.

Check the trap for minnows. Have a bucket filled with water handy and pull the trap out of the water. If the trap did not catch any minnows, try changing your location or the bait. If minnows are inside, release the fish into the bucket. Set the trap back in the water if you need more minnows.


Check your trap throughout the day, regularly emptying trapped minnows. When minnows stay in small, confined spaces too long, they become cannibalistic.

Things You'll Need

  • Minnow trap
  • Bread
  • Wet pet food
  • Bucket
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Missy Jess is a freelance writer from Minneapolis and has been producing online content since 1998. In addition to freelance writing, Jess teaches group fitness classes at several Minneapolis-area fitness centers and works in the information technology field. Jess has a bachelor's degree in English and enjoys working on various home improvement projects.