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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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29 Comments on Make your own minnow trap

  1. this rocks.i cught like 20 bass in a day.

  2. I like it! is there any other thing you can use to poke holes then a hot nail?


  4. I caught like 10 minnow and put them in a little fish tank.:)

  5. i cought100pound 7 ft long shark

  6. I think this would be great for my dad (who uses rubber bait and doesn’t catch anything) for this Christmas in 2009. I got the 3 liter botlles, I can’t wait to make it! I wonder how my dad will react.

  7. I’m going to give this a try, but how are you going to get the water snakes that typically drown in normal wire traps, out of the bottle? I doubt that a 2 foot water snake will just pour out.Been trapping for a long time.

  8. its awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. i really like your idea kudos!!!

  10. i may only be 13 but ive been doing this 4 years and it never disapoints me i catch minnows crawdads and somehow snails i love it

  11. I tried this and didnt catch anything. Ill try a different spot.

  12. I love it I caugt 70 minnows.

  13. thanks minnow master! well i tried catching minnows in my trap and didnt have any luck but bass were born a wile ago in the pond and now their 3 to 6 inches long so we just use a fishing pole.

  14. I caught 63 minnows in less than 15 minutes. Love it.

  15. Catfish Hunter/fisher // September 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    I caught 49 minnows in a real minnow trap for 1 hour and 51 in the do-it-yourself trap. FUNNY!

  16. Minnow Master // September 4, 2009 at 9:27 am // Reply

    If your lookin for smaller minnows use the hot nail and put a smaller hole in the cap

  17. looks okay…

  18. staple sound better than a hot nail and string

  19. i caught 347 in one trap

  20. outdoor guy // August 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm // Reply

    Thanks i will try that it should work good but i am going to use a paper clip so its not as hard

    Thanks again

  21. Minnow Master // August 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm // Reply

    To curryman r u sure minnows r in the pond if so yes the weeds r a good idea

  22. Minnow Master // August 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm // Reply

    I catch craydaddys and use these traps to catch minnows for there food it works great.

  23. like zoo to the bibbidy babbidy // August 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm // Reply

    which end goes up? i think its the one with the “cave”

  24. I thought it was an amazing idea.

  25. thats a great idea, i’m gonna go make one now!

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