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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. Jabshier123 // August 1, 2009 at 10:30 am // Reply

    There another eaiser way to connect the 2 peices together Instead of Using a Hot Nail, I always use a regular Paper Stapler , and staple the 2 peices together works for me it easier for Kids too they don’t have worry about getting burned

  2. I have not done it yet,But… I’m sure it,ll work.

  3. fisherman23 // July 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm // Reply

    curryman use shrimp tails and dog food

  4. fisherman23 // July 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm // Reply

    I use shrimp tails and dog food. I got 97 minnows in a small little water hole

  5. u por down // July 23, 2009 at 11:21 pm // Reply

    I want to drop this off a small pier. i’ll need to tie the trap to a line, but which end of this trap is UP?!

  6. minnowfreak // July 20, 2009 at 7:07 pm // Reply

    i used tiny picies of bread and minnows loved it

  7. i made one and havnt tried it yet it is still a cool idea im gonna but more than 1 bait in

  8. im going to try this!

  9. It works i caught 52 nice sized minnows went fishing the next day in the river and caught a 10 pound catfish and a couple sturgeon

  10. Im planning on keeping some minnows as a pet so should I try to catch them in the pond or buy some at a bait shop?

  11. Ok I live right near a pond a have tried thease traps before and have never cought anything so i was wondering what bait to use “I have tried bread and cheese” and where to set it do you just throw it as far as you can or should i try to get it close to weeds or something?

    P.S I f you respond put To curryman at the beggining so i know.

  12. bassmaster // June 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm // Reply

    i look forward to trying this

    oh and i herd that corn works good whole cernal

  13. I haven’t tryied it yet but I’m sure it will work fine

  14. for cray fish i use cat food in a homade trap made from a 2 leter bottle i caught 6 in 1 trap!

  15. dsjfhsfdsh // June 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm // Reply

    instead of discarding the bottoms recycle them and use them as planing pots to grow trees or other plants =]

  16. Fiiisherr // June 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm // Reply

    I also sharpened a stick and tied the other end off the string to it stuck it into the ground and threw it out and it works as a great holding point

  17. Fiiisherrr // June 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm // Reply

    I just got mine set with beta balls gold fish flakes and bread crumbs and i have to check it tommorow sounds great if im not mistaken hot dogs should work well to

  18. rockinbrad // May 28, 2009 at 8:43 pm // Reply


  19. RockinBrad // May 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm // Reply

    looks cool

  20. KING FISHER // May 25, 2009 at 8:04 am // Reply


  21. Anonymous // May 24, 2009 at 7:50 pm // Reply

    awsome dude! I love it. I might use the minnows as feeders for my 10 gallon native tank.

  22. I put bread in mine, I leave mine in for 1 week, and I catch so many minnows that there smushed together and I live in westvirginia

  23. canadien boy // May 7, 2009 at 8:09 pm // Reply


  24. check your state regulations before using…in PA openings must be 1″ or under and have your name, phone# and address attached to trap. dog food works excellent for bait. you can buy a minnow trap for like 12.00

  25. i have a wire trap and i catch 500 to 1000 minnows in one trap i let it soak in a creek for 2 to 3 days with beef liver. you shounld try works realy well !!!!!

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