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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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68 Comments on Make your own minnow trap

  1. We have an electric stove, and they said use a gas stove.

    What do i do?

  2. How do u put it down without it floating around?

    • HybridHunter // August 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm // Reply

      You burn hole in it with the nails. This allows the water to enter and it will submerge. No need to tie it down.

  3. i have a store bought one with this kind of making without all the holes in it it great for minnows and piggy perch

  4. Thaddeus 8463 // July 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm // Reply

    Its cool I used it

  5. good for cat fish

  6. Awesome this type of thing is on youtube.although the hot nail is out side though because of the fumes off the plastic

  7. It’s just like a bug trap

  8. I love catching minnows

  9. Some food I would use is Granola bars at Nine Eagles I dropped my Granola bar in the water and sunfish were everywhere then came a catfish.

  10. Why would you use hot dogs, sardines, or worms to bait minnows when you can use those as perfectly good bait for fish? Dn’t waste those on minnows… they will eat anything that’s small enough.

  11. Try using dog food that’s what we’ve always used and it works great

  12. Check if you need a permit to catch live bait, or you could face a $500.00 fine!

  13. FishyFrank // July 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm // Reply

    I used epoxy resin to stick the two halves of the bottle,then a hot nail for the sink holes.
    Remove the inner bottle top before sticking.Put holes in the bottle top to prevent airlocks.
    If you are baiting it with maggots,make smaller nail holes so they cant escape..

  14. You can use a hole punched to make the holes instead.

  15. Would a milk jug work?

  16. I cant wait to try it but if you release them, will they still follow the bait into the same trap?

  17. what type of food should i put in my minnow trap?

  18. is sardines a good bate for minnows

  19. i have a regular minnow basket ……… but dont no what the best food is to put in them anyone no ?

  20. will this work in upper michigan

  21. Waw amazing i get a lot of fish within 30 minutes

  22. i hope this works!

  23. you dont have to burn holes with a nail you can use a knife or scissors

  24. this is a good trap and works very well

  25. baseballplaya99 // May 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm // Reply

    awsome way to catch minnows you have to try this

  26. Superscout // May 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm // Reply

    Where do i put it?

  27. its awesome you have to try it

  28. Got to try this!

  29. how will the minos get into the bottle?

  30. greenberet // May 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm // Reply

    dont set your trap in the winter

  31. I stapled mine it woks fine

  32. Can you just skip the sewing together part and just staple it

  33. Whats the best time to trap minnows?

    • classic fisherman // April 15, 2012 at 7:59 am // Reply

      Any time is good as long as you are in an area that has lots of minnows. The best spot would be were there is a strong current in a stream from 6″ to 1′ so the minnows will stay in better. If you only see a few going in walk away for about 1 to three minutes and it should be packed with minnows.

    • summer

  34. Lambs rock // April 1, 2012 at 3:21 am // Reply

    Catch lots of minnows in 5mins

  35. You can catch loads of minnows in10mins

  36. Going to try this at Bass Lake when we go up to Yosemite for Spring Break!

  37. My dad and i use a small twine link net tied onto 2 sticks. It works really good for us.

  38. Try sardines that’s what I always use

  39. it depends on the season you are setting your trap

  40. What kind of fish would you use minnows to catch? I like fishing and will try using minnows that I caught, the next time I go. I have used bagel as bait before and that works well.

  41. this can also be a crawdad trap

  42. I caught a 20lb salmon and a 17lb pike in mine

  43. johnny apple seed // February 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm // Reply

    man i tried it with bred but no progress….i dont know if im doing this wrong because i see mnnows swiming around and about but aint catching non with the trap

  44. It really does work because i have two fish tanks and i have 5 in one tank and 3or 4 in
    another tank, and it really does work so if any one like to make it and find out for your self, and see if we aren’t wrong about how many minnows you eill catch in the minnow trap, believe me it really does work.
    and yes it does work.

  45. it is so coooooooooooool

  46. whats the best bait!

    • I used a cheese cracker (after trying everything else) and caught about 50 minnows in less than 20 minutes! I just broke the cracker in half and dropped it in thru the open hole. As it flaked apart the minnows swarmed into the trap to eat the flakes.

  47. this is ASWOM like it really works

  48. i caught like 6 crawfish and a bunch of sucker minnows

  49. :):):):):)::):) // January 9, 2012 at 8:26 am // Reply

    does this raelly work?

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