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How do you use a minnow trap?

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#1 Guest_fishtanker_*

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 07:41 PM

Ok, I am a Newbie. I have kept tanks and fished my entire life, but I have never fished with live bait. I think a minnow trap might be a great way to collect some great specimens, or if nothing else food for the warmoth. Can anyone offer me any tips, I put one out by a pier for about 3 hours filled with crushed saltines, but no minnows :( I was very disapoined.


#2 Guest_killier_*

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 07:54 PM

Ok, I am a Newbie. I have kept tanks and fished my entire life, but I have never fished with live bait. I think a minnow trap might be a great way to collect some great specimens, or if nothing else food for the warmoth. Can anyone offer me any tips, I put one out by a pier for about 3 hours filled with crushed saltines, but no minnows :( I was very disapoined.


dont crush um and try dogfood let it sit out over night and then look at it

#3 Guest_teleost_*

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:31 PM


I've NEVER had success with minnow traps when compared to just a few minutes with a seine or even dip net. I'd suggest ditching the notion of a trap and jump in the water with a net, any net.

#4 Guest_sandtiger_*

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 09:10 PM

Minnow traps are good for a large number of specific species but you won't get much diversity in them. For trap baits I would suggest dogfood or chicken...that always works for me. There used to be an article on nativefish.org about different trap baits for different species. Last I knew the article did not work but I would suggest visiting the site and perhaps trying to read it yourself.

#5 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 10:09 PM

Minnow traps can work great for small sunfish, <1", and killifish, and eels: the best eel bait is a slightly punctured can of cat food in the trap. Like others said it's pretty much hit or miss, and in general netting works better.

#6 Guest_edbihary_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 12:30 AM

I've used bread as bait in minnow traps. I've never caught anything but baby bluegills, though. Lots of them. They do make good feeders, though.

#7 Guest_drewish_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 12:43 AM

Please note that in most states it is illegal to minnow trap game fish, i.e. sunfish, in minnow traps. If you find the right spots, a dipnet will work well in trying to catch minnows.

#8 Guest_mzokan_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 10:04 AM

At least in my experience minnow traps are not very good for catching minnows, but can be quite good for catching killifish, Gambusia, small sunfish, and sometimes small catfish. You can bait them with just about anything but I usually use bread or some small pieces of sandwich meat -- like ham or salami. They also can be quite effective unbaited if placed in dense vegetation. Leave it out several hours during the day or overnight for the best catches. Usually you don't get much variety with minnow traps, but sometimes you get suprised -- I got my first and only redeye bass (released) in a minnow trap.

#9 Guest_nativeplanter_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:58 AM

I think a minnow trap is perfect in certain circumstances. For example, I can collect a gagillion mummichogs with mine in just an hour off of a fishing pier, but to wade out there with a dip net would be nearly impossible in the marsh (although I suspect that snowshoes might help).

I also like to take the trap along on family trips where I probably won't be able/allowed to go mucking about due to time and/or dress code. But I can usually toss out and check a minnow trap with out too much grumbling in the background.

I've also used it successfully on small streams where I just can't seem to catch the fish with a net, and a seine would be way too big.

I did have a trap stolen recently when I left it overnight. Very, very dissapointing.

#10 Guest_Irate Mormon_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 05:38 PM

Just a couple of things. I suspend the bait (dog kibble or whatever) in a mesh bag inside the trap so that the fishes can't nibble it away through the mesh of the trap - they have to go inside to get at the bait. Also, bluegill will go inside an unbaited trap just to see what is in there (disappointment is their reward for insatiable curiosity).
In general, my success with traps has been limited at best. Your chances are better if you actually see fish where you want to place the trap.

#11 Guest_keepnatives_*

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:45 PM

Placement is important if you want minnows a stream where riffles run into a pool often work well. I prefer to use canned cat food in an old fish net netting dangling inside as Irate pointed out.

#12 Guest_CatfishHunter_*

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 03:09 PM

i catch roughly 20+ minnows in my trap just about every time I set it out. I usually let it sit overnight but I have collected it after an hour or two. I use bread for the minnows and fried chicken or hot dogs to get some crayfish. Combo's also work great for both. I mash up a couple and put a couple whole ones in. Not sure if the kind of Combo matters but they seem to love them. The best place to set your trap is up against the shoreline of a small crik, they like to hide up under the overhanging weeds or underwater root systems so I like to set the food as close as possible to where I see them running for cover. I usually get a couple nice size chub minnows and others. I usually take about 5 minnows per person and still dont use them all (especially if you thread them, you dont lose them as easily and can still use the heads after they get chewed on).

#13 Guest_hornpout_*

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 07:58 PM

There's a small stream about a hundred yards from my parent's place. In the summer time I can toss my trap in with a few dog kibbles and watch in minutes as dozens of creek chub, common shiners, white suckers, and the odd redbelly dace swim on in. If I leave it for hours, it'll really fill up. Often I get appalachian creek crayfish as well. It's funny, though...there's another stream a quarter mile away that yields nothing. My experience is that if one spot isn't workin, try another (and another). Different spots will yield different fish at different times.

#14 Guest_mikez_*

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 11:50 PM

All the previous tips I agree with. I've always used what ever bread crust were available for filching from the kitchen but the other bait mentioned above will work, depending on available species.

Another tip not mentioned is to put the bait trap along structure like logs and boulders. Fish [and other critters] that wouldn't go to bait will be funneled into the trap.
If eels might be present, check the trap in the evening. If eels get in during the night, they'll eat all the minnows by morning.

#15 Guest_steve_*

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 06:26 PM

I know this is an old thread, but I'm hoping that what I have to add can be of some value as a minnow trap is one of my most valuable tools for collecting. The various types of minnows I've collected regularly are too numerous too mention. I've also, with some regularity, caught darters; johnnies, black sides, and log perch, and occasionally bandeds and rainbows. I normally collect alone so it's not convenient to use a seine, which I will admit catches the most fish. I do find that a minnow trap and a dip net complement each other wonderfully on any solo collecting trip though. Compared to the dip net, the fish I regularly catch with the trap are actually larger in size and variety. On a rare occasion, I have been "skunked"(caught nothing at all), but I normally count on the trap producing well.

As is mentioned earlier, placement is everything(almost). Alongside weed beds, beside logs or any type of structure, beside the bank, and under tree roots are all good choices. Completely out of the current, or sometimes just slightly out of the current works well, often depending on what you are trying for. Also, as was mentioned earlier, if you see fish, it's probably a good spot. I just try to position the trap in such a way as to let them be guided into it naturally.

Two important things about placement that I also try to pay attention to:
  • If there is any current where I set the trap, I try to set it where the holes are inline with the current. I use the regular cheap wire mesh trap with a hole at each end. I set it to where the current runs in one hole and out the other as fish are usually more likely to swim with the current.
  • The more the trap is hidden from view from above, the safer the fish will feel going in to check out a meal. The better you can see the trap the less comfortable the fish will be going into it. This is why under tree roots that are just outside the current works so well. They feel safe and they're close to a possible food source.
The reason I think the dip net and trap complement each other is because I don't leave the trap in one spot for more than 20 - 30 minutes. This gives time to move the trap around while I'm also collecting with the net or fly rod. I've also found that if I'm not getting anything by that time, a little longer probably isn't going to make much difference anyway. Just today, I had the trap set for less than 10 minutes and had a trap full that included 5 different kinds of fish. This being said, it is also best not to check it too soon too. 10 minutes was probably pushing it a little, but my hands were getting cold. Anyway, the main thing I'm emphasizing is that, if you're going to be in the area with the net or fishing pole for a few hours, changing location of the trap every 30 minutes or so can greatly increase your likelihood of success. Trying a number of places every time you go out is also a good way to learn what the best places are in that particular area. I also never leave a trap set overnight. There is too much danger of some kind of predator getting in and wiping out my catch and smaller fish can also damage themselves trying to escape if left in too long.

There are some good ideas for bait mentioned above. I've tried a variety of things, but I've typically had my best success with just a slice of bread. I don't do anything fancy to it, I just toss it in and let it float. I often take an extra slice or two if I'm going to be out for a while, as it does turn to mush after trying a few spots.

Again, sorry for bringing up an old thread, but since a trap is such an invaluable part of my collecting approach , I hope that someone else may get some good out of these strategies as well.


Edited by steve, 25 January 2012 - 06:27 PM.

#16 Guest_Usil_*

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 09:21 PM

Thanks for that. I am going to add this to my hunting kit next spring.


#17 Guest_CreekStomper_*

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 01:53 AM

Thanks for that. I am going to add this to my hunting kit next spring.


Me too. Thanks for the tips, everyone!


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