How to set a minnow trap

Written by missy jess
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How to set a minnow trap
Catch your own live bait using minnow trap. (fishing image by Zbigniew Nowak from

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.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Minnow trap
  • Bread
  • Wet pet food
  • Bucket

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    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.

Tips and warnings

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

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