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Make your own minnow trap

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.


Click here for a PDF version of these instructions.

You’re ready for fishing. You’ve got everything … but bait. And no cash to buy any. Well, forget throwing money at minnows. Gather your own! It’s simple with this easy-to make trap. Here’s how:

You’ll Need:

  • Two plastic soda pop bottles. The three-liter size is best, but two-liter will do.
  • One woodworking nail, about 6-penny size (the exact size is unimportant).
  • Some twine, kite string or something similar.
  • Adult permission and/or help.

For tools, scrounge up a pair of sturdy scissors and locking pliers (such as Vise-Grip) or common slip-joint pliers. A utility knife can help with initial cuts but isn’t necessary. You’ll also need a controllable flame source — the kitchen stove is perfect.

Step 1STEP 1: Label one bottle “A” and the other “B.” Cut off the bottom one-third of bottle A and put in your home recycling bin. Leave the bottle cap on.

Step 2STEP 2: On B, cut off the neck & shoulders, close to the top of the bottle label. It should be cut just below — maybe a half inch or so — where the sides begin to straighten out. Toss the bottom and spare bottle cap in the recycling bin.

Step 3STEP 3: The remaining steps should be done near your flame source, with the pliers and nail handy. Keep a bowl with cold water nearby also. Fit funnelshaped piece (B) into the bottom of A so it points toward A’s remaining bottle cap. It should now form a nice little “cave.”

Step 4STEP 4: Holding the two bottles together firmly in your weak hand (left hand if you’re right-handed, right if you’re left-handed), turn on the flame with the other hand. Pick up the pliers with your free hand and firmly grasp the nail near its head with the pliers. Carefully hold the nail over the flame so that it gets good and hot.

Step 5STEP 5: Keeping your grip on both the A and B bottle parts and the hot nail in the pliers, push the nail point through both the funnel and bottle, in 10 to 12 spots around the lip of the “cave” that we mentioned. Drop the hot nail into the cold water.

Step 6 and 7STEP 6: Using your string or twine, sew the two bottle parts together. Alternately, simply cut the string into short pieces, using the same number of pieces as there are holes, and individually tie each hole up so that the two plastic parts A and B don’t come apart.

STEP 7: Reheat the nail as in Step 4, and put a bunch of holes all over the sides of the bottle (A). A couple of dozen should do it.

Setting Your Minnow Trap

To use your trap, add some bread or cracker bits through the funnel (B). Sink the trap in your favorite pond or lake for a few hours, preferably overnight. Tie it securely to a dock or tree. The minnows will go in the trap but aren’t smart enough to get out. Next morning, simply open the bottle cap and pour the minnows into your bait bucket. You’re all set for a day of fishing!

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25 Comments on Make your own minnow trap

  1. how do the fish not get out ?

  2. And also, you can catch crayfish by building a small dam in the river, thus creating a habitat for minnows and other small fry. Next, just so you know, this will take a year to do if you only supply new minnows every 5 months. So, the REAL next thing, supply as many crayfish and minnows to the pool as you can. While building, you must install a short pipe near the top of the dam, about an inch from the bottom to the top [if the pipe is laying sideways and you are looking through it] for drainage and easy-catch. Let the population get fat and PRESTO! You have a catching pool. At the end of the pipe where water comes out, put a small pile of rocks, three poundsworth. When you want to catch fish the easy way, simply place a screen or net in the center of the rock pile [they will have a center “valley” in the middle of the pile], chase what you want down the pipe and you have fish! Thank you for reading.

  3. Nice. snwbdr09173, you can catch crayfish with a net in a river easily. I do it all the time in my family’s WV vacation house. You put a net behind the crayfish, and scare it with a rock and it will blindly shoot backwards into the net.

  4. TIS IS GREAT,U EAT THE MINNOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. thats great facts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. fishing kid go bass // August 6, 2007 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    this is great. i have the metal trap that u buy at the store and it works the same. i caught a ton of minnows with the metal 1 from the store. i wonder if the 1 from the store works better that this 1. probably the same. to catch crawfish u can use fish guts and fish meat. if u cut up kiver meat and stuff the crawfish will def go in it.

  7. snwbdr09173 // August 3, 2007 at 9:18 pm // Reply

    would this work on crawfish?

  8. there is a steam in these woods between highways where i live and it is full of many types of snake,minnows,crawfish,salmanders and many others. With this cheap trap idea we caught about half a dozen snakes,like 4 DOZEN MINNOWS!!!,only 3 crawfish but no salamanders. This is a really brilliant idea.

  9. fisher of men // July 25, 2007 at 9:14 pm // Reply

    Hints… you can use crackers for bait for minnows and freshwater shrimp, and use wet dog food as bait for crawdads.

  10. i’ve got one…

    get a fishing pole w/ a hook. put a worm on the hook..

    let a minnow get close to the worm and then take your

    pole and hit him in the head w/ it….

    pick him up out of the water and there ya go you got some bait….

    works every time

  11. kornfizzle // July 12, 2007 at 12:48 am // Reply

    a sounded cool i made it and cant wait to try it

  12. This trap sounds great. I think that I might want to make it :-))))))))))))

  13. i caught 500 minows in a week and i had it for 8 weeks

  14. shrimp fisher // July 3, 2007 at 7:09 pm // Reply

    i caught some shrimp off of this trap. it is great!! thanks for putting this contraption on this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I’ll have ta give it a try

  16. it was graet when i chot some i chot 300 minos and cept them in my mino tanc i made

  17. dwight eisenhower // June 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm // Reply

    cool! i fish alot & dont have much cash. this will help! 🙂

  18. rock n roll // June 3, 2007 at 2:58 pm // Reply

    this thing does not work!!!!!!!!!!! don’t waist your time. and that nail thing is the most stupidest thing ever i tried it and found out its a good way to get hurt (or burned).

  19. mincemeat // May 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm // Reply

    zimmsta did u ever get that info on if crayfish can be caught using this trap

  20. wild16woods // May 25, 2007 at 1:42 pm // Reply

    This trap works great! I set it over night and got five minnows and three stickleback. Great idea!

  21. this is so cool and it really works good when i am at the river.

  22. Overwiggle // May 22, 2007 at 11:11 pm // Reply

    This is an ~*~AWSOME~*~ idea i will try it right now!

  23. Jack Asternaut // May 20, 2007 at 6:56 pm // Reply

    Good idea i caught 2 tadpoles in 2 hours!

  24. I will try this today I realy think it will work.

  25. fish king // May 16, 2007 at 1:15 pm // Reply

    I have always and I think it will work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

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