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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. what is the best bait to use for bait fish in vt

  2. im using two 16oz water bottles and what is the best bait for the minnows

  3. At the end of the game you can play as Lugi after that play the whole game with Lugi And you should get a star!!!!!!

  4. minnowking // April 25, 2009 at 9:12 am // Reply

    i made about 13 of these and bourght 3 i used some cheap sardines and i cought about 8 crawfish in each trap and a few minnows does any1 no which bait works well for freshwater shrimp

  5. masta fisha // April 25, 2009 at 8:50 am // Reply

    i used to do this it works so great but little food dand 20 minnow!

  6. i need to try this

  7. Im gonna try some milk jugs, i’ll make them and set them out tonight and check back in, in the morning to let ya know how they worked

  8. basshunter // April 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm // Reply

    Will the traps work on catching 1-2 inch bluegill as well as other small fish? plz let me know.

  9. I made like 10 of these traps (because i have tons of jars in my basement) and caught a lot of minnows just tie the string TIGHTLY because my first time out i lost a total of 3 traps because of the string coming untied

  10. if you cut a plastic bottle in half and dispose of the cap then put the nozzle end into a jar then fasten it however you want (i prefer to use metal wire) tie a long string or shoe lace to the jar and then throw it into the body of water available to you (stream pond ECT) the next day you should have a handsome catch of minnows



  12. I used something simalar to this but I used a 5 gallon bucket, cut a hole in the lid stuck the end of a 2 liter bottle tied it on, just like the original. I used bread, beta pellets, goldfish flakes, and broken up nightcrawlers as bait. I put it in my shallow pond overnight, checked it the next morning and had over 50 minnows, 3 crawdads, 10 tadpoles, and 2 small frogs (Just in one night!) I went fishing in my deeper pond that same day and caught a very nice 7 pound bass along with a few others.

  13. Wont they just swim out the same hole if its filled with water?

  14. i used a big gatorade jug and i caught a little catfish and a few minnows

  15. steelheding101 // March 18, 2009 at 4:10 pm // Reply


  16. done this in a similair way with a cheeze ball tub, and i also tried it with a coke can. both worked great.

  17. i made one 2weeks ago an caught a snake and about 15teen good size minnows andd i went fishin an caught a 21 pound catfish an a couple brim u haft to try it it works good.

  18. I tried this with bread crumbs for bait, It did not work


  20. I’ve never tried this befor but im willing to if it works to catch anything for bait. I thank you for this item to try.

  21. This looks cool! I’ll have to try it!

  22. you can make it a different way too

  23. i will probably use the minnows for live bait when fishing.

  24. this is a great idea. it does work well with the 20oz bottles like minnowboy said i used fish food pellets and that worked very will

  25. these traps work very well. i made a couple out of 20oz bottles and put dog food (crunchy) in the traps. i had about 6 nice minnows in each one. i have made a couple out of 2 liters too but havent used them yet. but just so everyone knows it will work with small bottles too.

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