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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. this was nice but i only caught so many at a time

  2. coclchslkdhwqKO // March 22, 2008 at 3:34 pm // Reply


  3. i tried this and got a ticket for litering i caught 1 minnow in 9 hours at a spot that i use my real trap and always catch between 20 and 30 in two hours i also got a ticket for litering so i suggest you dont do this

  4. Made two and put them side by side. One i cut the top off of and put fish guts in . it caught crayfish. The other caught minnows while we slept at camp. of our troop that fished we fished all week with free bait. I would suggest like my grandfather did, use a roto zip or drill to make the holes.

  5. I have used this contraption over 25 times and I have caught over 100 minnows.

  6. i have tried that type of trap but found it only catches small minnows and does not hold many. my advice is to spend ten dollars and buy a pre made real minnow trap. that is actaully worth putting time into.

  7. also a tip for you hardcore minnow catchers try phytoplancton and zooplankton from the pet store works wonders in the trap.

  8. good idea twats

  9. I tried it and it’s a good idea I caught 2 minnows in 8 hours and ate them with butter.

  10. me and my friend go minow fishin in spring and summer.i think i will build one and try it out this time because we spent 2 hours and only caught 4 of them fast little suckers.

  11. Awsome

  12. does it work in winter to

  13. there is a creek by my house and me and my bro chach them by hand alll the time dont know y u would need a trap but i made one any ways to see if it will work….

  14. yes it wil chach crayfish……. If u want cray fish use raw baccon but they also eat just a bout any meat soource, cut up fish is the best….. minnows the eat crakers, bread, ect……..

  15. this sounds like a good i dea iv made two and cant wait to use it

  16. Mystery manision // December 10, 2007 at 9:04 pm // Reply

    Here is a tip if you set your trap in a deep lake:

    In the opening of the 1st bottle,add a door. Like a picece of light metal. Add an opening for the latcth. Make sure it stretches over the opening. Make a hole in the opposite end of the latch and in the part where the door is birectly below. Then add rope or twine to make the door open and close. Have fun with my invension!

  17. Mystery manision // December 10, 2007 at 8:48 pm // Reply

    In my lake, there is ducks. Will the trap work? Please awnser me.

  18. Mystery manision // December 10, 2007 at 8:34 pm // Reply

    I don’t know how to open the bottle cap deep in the water. Mabye you can add a piece of heavy paper when they get in the cave. Please help me.

  19. Mystery manision // December 10, 2007 at 8:22 pm // Reply

    I will show this to my dad. If this works, I will keep some as pets or put up our own bait shop and sell them. I loved reading this.( Also, to attract a lot of minnows, get a piece of large, loose dirt by the pond and simply wait). ( You will need to have your trap set and make sure the dirt is by the pond.

  20. this is cool

  21. Crayfish lover // December 1, 2007 at 3:35 pm // Reply

    This is a really good idea.

    However,will it catch crayfish too?

    PS. Crayfish Rules!

  22. whats alll the bait i can use

  23. milk jug 1 gallon works to

  24. i use the trap with my friends and it work thinks 4 the idea

  25. dude guy fisher // November 11, 2007 at 7:44 am // Reply

    i think i will try it but it is a bit small and try using dog food for it and i will use duct tape instead of tying the pieces together and 1 people cut the ends so bigger baIT CAN GET IN

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