Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips I want to catch my own bait!
I want to catch my own bait!

“I want to catch my own bait!” How do you catch minnows? How about shiners and

Catching your own bait will give you quality bait and will also give you hours of
enjoyment because catching your own bait can be fun!

A big fat live minnow is the bait of choice for flounder in the spring and early
summer. And you will be in luck, because minnows are fairly easy to catch this time
of the year. Come August, the minnows can play a disappearing act on you, and then
minnow catching can become very frustrating.

“How do you catch them?”

First of all, buy a minnow trap from a fishing tackle store. It is essentially
a wire cage with two round holes in the end where the minnows can come in and become
trapped. If you live on the water, place the trap in a place where you see minnows
swimming around. Traps seem to work best in shallow water. You want the water to
just barely cover the top of the trap during the low tide. Minnows love marshes,
mosquito ditches, drainpipes, or the edge of a drop-off in a shallow creek. Minnows
like the sunshine that brings them to the shallows. You will find that you will catch
more minnows during the daylight hours, but very few after dark. If you live in a man
made lagoon that is surrounded by a bulkhead, look for the drainage ditches and try
the corners of the lagoon. Look into the water, especially at low tide and see if you see
them swimming around.

“What do I bait my trap with?”

Minnows are fairly easy to catch in the spring and early summer. They will eat
just about anything including plain bread. As they get harder to catch, you may want
to try different things. Some of the best baits are fresh crushed crab, a frozen peeler
crab or old soft crab you have lying around in your freezer. Bunker that you use in
your commercial crab pots make great bait because it is oily. (Break it into pieces.
Be sure to change this bait frequently as it can get very smelly.) Use can use your
leftover fish carcasses, but you will find that the oilier fish bodies such as bluefish
or tuna are better than a ones that are not, such as flounder or sea bass.

Some minnow catchers swear by chicken parts. I hear backs are especially good.
I like to use dry Gravy Train dog food. Left over raw shrimp skins are excellent if
you peel your shrimp before cooking them. Stale donuts are great. Fish roe is out
of this world. I know pig fat works because a man I used to buy minnows from always
had it mixed in with his minnows. Some people swear by dripping Shedder Crab Oil on
pieces of bread. Pieces of fresh tuna scraps is one of the best baits for minnows
and other baitfish such as spot, so be sure to always save your trimmings from your

“I can’t catch minnows in my canal.”

If there isn’t any baitfish where you live, you just have to go to the minnows!
If you have a boat, you can go fishing an hour early and set your traps in a marshy
area. An entrance to a mosquito ditch in a green marsh will usually give you results
in about 20 minutes. Toss in the trap so the holes run in the same direction as the
ditch. If you can see the wire below the surface, you are not too deep. As you drift
away, you should be able to see the dark bodies of minnows swimming around the trap.
If you see this, this is a good sign. Leave the trap alone for at least 20 minutes.
Take a flounder drift with yesterday’s bait or a pack of frozen shiners.

“Can I leave the traps overnight?”

I would not leave a minnow trap unattended unless it is well hidden. For one
thing, you will catch most of your minnows within the first hour when the bait is
freshest. Secondly, the minnows won’t pot after dark. And thirdly, it is likely
to disappear as someone may consider it abandoned and fair game.

Have you ever noticed that traps work best when they are shiny and new? That’s
because minnows are attracted to that. They don’t like them as much when they get
all grassed up, so be sure to hose off your minnow traps if they get growth on
them. I think the minnows like to see in and be able to smell the particles of bait
coming out before they decide to go in the holes.

When you go to the store, you may see two kinds of minnow traps. There are
the original Gee’s minnow traps that are bright and shiny. I think these are best.
There are a couple black coated traps on the market, and they are a little less
money but I have been told they do not work quite as well. I find that the clips
on them are harder to put in position and that the “smaller mesh” black trap grasses
up in only a few days. Of course, if you are only fishing for a couple days a week or
in a place where you are afraid your minnow traps might be stolen, go ahead and try
them, as they are less money. The dark traps are also less visible if you are afraid
of theft.

“How about plastic minnow traps?”

I wouldn’t suggest them. They are made more for fresh water and they
also get grassed up quickly.

“Once I catch them, what should I do with them?”

Minnows are quite hardy and will live for several weeks. If you just have
3 to 6 dozen, you can keep them in your flow troll bucket. If you have a dock,
tie your flow troll beneath the dock, so the hot sun does not beat down on your
catch. It will also protect your minnows from a heavy rainstorm that can sometimes
kill your minnows. If you have more minnows you can invest in a second flow troll
bucket or, better yet, invest in a second minnow trap. Close up the ends (I crush
them flat with my tennis shoe) and place your minnows in the holding trap. You can
keep up to 30 dozen minnows in one of these holding traps. Tie on a rope and let
the holding trap go almost to the bottom. Then lift it up off the bottom a couple
inches and tie it off. Again, your minnows will live better if you can place them
under a dock.

This works great if you are docked in a canal or marina basin. If you are
exposed to hard running tide, your holding pot may get grassed up and the minnows
would suffocate. In that case, go back to the flow troll buckets or make a floating
minnow holder out of a trashcan with small holes. Experiment. You will come up with
something that works best for you.

If you are catching minnows and only want to use the larger minnows, release the
smaller ones right away and you will have more room to store your premium catch. The
less minnows you have in your storage container, the longer they will live.

“How about eels?”

You can catch eels in the same minnow traps but you will catch them mostly at
night. Set your traps in a marshy area and bait up with some kind of crushed crab.
You will catch a few eels with other baits but your will catch considerably more
with crab. Once you catch a couple eels, be sure to take them out of the trap and
put them in a holding trap, as minnows do not like to come in a trap with eels in
them. Because guess what eels like to eat? Minnows!

Good fishing… and baiting…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:25