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Make your own minnow trap

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!

517 Comments on Make your own minnow trap

  1. cool

  2. Where can I find 3 liter bottles?

  3. Works amazingly well but putting some buttered saltines attracts minows like moths to a lantern

  4. Dog food makes great bait.

  5. I used this trap In a little stream and I caught trout in it and also lots of minnows

  6. Poor Minnows!!!! Don’t hurt them!

  7. Awesome looks easy I am definitely going to try it!!!

  8. Survival master 720 // August 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm // Reply

    This trap works use it and hook the minnios through the mouth to keep them lively plus the fish go for the head first

  9. Anonymous // July 1, 2014 at 4:41 pm // Reply

    butter and bread makes good bait

  10. Side holes are for fresh water to circulate

  11. Fisherboy // May 13, 2014 at 8:50 pm // Reply

    Can’t wait to use this! ( btw what are the side holes for can anyone tell me?)

  12. it works i caught 18 minnows and crawfish

  13. I AM GOING TO USE ONE IN THE OHIO RIVER

  14. SallyTheTabby // March 15, 2014 at 7:03 am // Reply

    You can staple the two parts together instead of using a hot nail. In 20 minutes I got 50 minnows leaving it for a few hours you would have too many!

  15. Can you use fishing line in place of the twine

  16. Way Cool!

  17. Outstanding! Use it and teach the younger guys! It does work! Great job!

  18. I do not have a place to get minnows but I do have a place to get crayfish.I put my crayfish in with my turtle and he is terrified of that crayfish.

  19. Baseballbro17 // September 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm // Reply

    I made one and it works really well!

  20. Old minnow catcher // September 24, 2013 at 7:04 pm // Reply

    crumbled up saltine crackers work very well, that’s all my dad and I have ever used

  21. Haha that’s easy

  22. stolen

  23. fishingstud // July 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm // Reply

    Hey use a stick of gum for bait it works great

  24. Nice thanks for the info can’t w8 to try it

  25. Catfisher // May 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    I made my own trap like that but with 2 entrances and caught about 20 minnows a couple of shad and crawfish

  26. Gonna try this out. Just hope it works

  27. old pencil soldering irons make the hole for twine so much better and easeir and safer

  28. tickel body // April 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm // Reply

    awesome

  29. im ganna do that

  30. moondoggie // April 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm // Reply

    thanks for the great ideas guys.

  31. I made mine out of gal. size vinager jug also used gal. milk jugs…. Work great :)

  32. mnpikehunter // April 10, 2013 at 11:21 am // Reply

    I’m sure this trap could also work for leeches.

  33. i luv candy // March 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm // Reply

    try using squirtable cheese as bait

  34. don’t use a hot nail. just use the pointy end of scissors or a knife.

  35. just use twisty ties to hold it together. that’s what I always did as a kid and caught thousands of the things.

  36. General Bigfoot // November 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm // Reply

    That seems cool, i’ll have to try it some time.

  37. I just duck taped mine together

    • if i was u i would not use duck type because it doesn’t work very well,because i have tried it be for and the type came off and i all most lost all my minnows because i didn’t fix it the way it really was supose to work out.

    • busterbrown // March 21, 2013 at 9:03 am // Reply

      I am using duck tape

  38. I used it and i caaught bout 25 minnows it works really good. Another good bait is dog (or cat) food

  39. Dry dog food works great for attracting minnows, will last about 8 hours.

  40. You can make a better one out of PVC pipe and a small. Tin

  41. neat idea saved me twenty bucks I was just going to buy one.

  42. Nice!

  43. i love this idea just made one in ten min hopefully it will work in my pond i have a koi pond in my yard and when i have left over minnows from fishing i put them in my pond but i actually dont know if the koi ate the minnows or not the test will be revealed tomorrow when i check the trap

  44. FirstClassFun // September 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm // Reply

    You can make frog/toad traps much the same way. just use a container with a wide mouth, fill with dead flies from the windowsill or other frog food, and camouflage in or near a wet, cool place where you know has frogs/toads. You can use the caught ones as bait, or food for your turtle.

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