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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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50 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

  26. how do the fish not get out ?

  27. And also, you can catch crayfish by building a small dam in the river, thus creating a habitat for minnows and other small fry. Next, just so you know, this will take a year to do if you only supply new minnows every 5 months. So, the REAL next thing, supply as many crayfish and minnows to the pool as you can. While building, you must install a short pipe near the top of the dam, about an inch from the bottom to the top [if the pipe is laying sideways and you are looking through it] for drainage and easy-catch. Let the population get fat and PRESTO! You have a catching pool. At the end of the pipe where water comes out, put a small pile of rocks, three poundsworth. When you want to catch fish the easy way, simply place a screen or net in the center of the rock pile [they will have a center “valley” in the middle of the pile], chase what you want down the pipe and you have fish! Thank you for reading.

  28. Nice. snwbdr09173, you can catch crayfish with a net in a river easily. I do it all the time in my family’s WV vacation house. You put a net behind the crayfish, and scare it with a rock and it will blindly shoot backwards into the net.

  29. TIS IS GREAT,U EAT THE MINNOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. thats great facts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. fishing kid go bass // August 6, 2007 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    this is great. i have the metal trap that u buy at the store and it works the same. i caught a ton of minnows with the metal 1 from the store. i wonder if the 1 from the store works better that this 1. probably the same. to catch crawfish u can use fish guts and fish meat. if u cut up kiver meat and stuff the crawfish will def go in it.

  32. snwbdr09173 // August 3, 2007 at 9:18 pm // Reply

    would this work on crawfish?

  33. there is a steam in these woods between highways where i live and it is full of many types of snake,minnows,crawfish,salmanders and many others. With this cheap trap idea we caught about half a dozen snakes,like 4 DOZEN MINNOWS!!!,only 3 crawfish but no salamanders. This is a really brilliant idea.

  34. fisher of men // July 25, 2007 at 9:14 pm // Reply

    Hints… you can use crackers for bait for minnows and freshwater shrimp, and use wet dog food as bait for crawdads.

  35. i’ve got one…

    get a fishing pole w/ a hook. put a worm on the hook..

    let a minnow get close to the worm and then take your

    pole and hit him in the head w/ it….

    pick him up out of the water and there ya go you got some bait….

    works every time

  36. kornfizzle // July 12, 2007 at 12:48 am // Reply

    a sounded cool i made it and cant wait to try it

  37. This trap sounds great. I think that I might want to make it :-))))))))))))

  38. i caught 500 minows in a week and i had it for 8 weeks

  39. shrimp fisher // July 3, 2007 at 7:09 pm // Reply

    i caught some shrimp off of this trap. it is great!! thanks for putting this contraption on this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. I’ll have ta give it a try

  41. it was graet when i chot some i chot 300 minos and cept them in my mino tanc i made

  42. dwight eisenhower // June 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm // Reply

    cool! i fish alot & dont have much cash. this will help! 🙂

  43. rock n roll // June 3, 2007 at 2:58 pm // Reply

    this thing does not work!!!!!!!!!!! don’t waist your time. and that nail thing is the most stupidest thing ever i tried it and found out its a good way to get hurt (or burned).

  44. mincemeat // May 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm // Reply

    zimmsta did u ever get that info on if crayfish can be caught using this trap

  45. wild16woods // May 25, 2007 at 1:42 pm // Reply

    This trap works great! I set it over night and got five minnows and three stickleback. Great idea!

  46. this is so cool and it really works good when i am at the river.

  47. Overwiggle // May 22, 2007 at 11:11 pm // Reply

    This is an ~*~AWSOME~*~ idea i will try it right now!

  48. Jack Asternaut // May 20, 2007 at 6:56 pm // Reply

    Good idea i caught 2 tadpoles in 2 hours!

  49. I will try this today I realy think it will work.

  50. fish king // May 16, 2007 at 1:15 pm // Reply

    I have always and I think it will work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

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