Catch Your Own Minnows

by Tim McRae

Tired of spending good money to some convenience store owner for minnows that you know will be belly up in two hours? Well here's an idea you're sure to like, catch your own! It is relatively easy to do and the cost is nominal especially when you consider the price of store bought minnows these days. Catching   your own minnows gives you another activity to enjoy in the great outdoors.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

There are two methods you can use when you attempt to catch your own minnows. You can dip for minnows using a dip-net or you can trap them in a bait-trap. Both methods work well. A bait- trap consits of a metal wire trap with a hole in each end which allows the minnow to enter. After entering however he can't find his way back out. The trap comes in two sections which join together with a clasp. A rope or string is tied to this clasp. The other end of the rope is anchored to the shore. Traps can also be tied to some type of a float which is left in the water. Dip-nets consist of a wire frame onto which four corners of the net attach. A rope is tied to the center of the frame and pulled up by the operator. Both types can be bought at any tackle shop and some hardware stores.

In order to catch minnows in Ontario you must possess a valid resident fishing license. A pair of  Polarized sunglasses also come in handy for viewing below the water. You will need an anchor for the boat and if possible two. One tied at the front and one at the back will greatly reduce the swinging of  the boat when you are pulling up the dip-net. Don't forget a pail to put your catch into. Lastly you will need a couple of slices of bread. Any kind will do.

WHERE TO GO

Where you may find minnows on any body of water will differ. Weed beds in shallow bays are a good bet. Lilly pads often hold minnows. Beaver lodges, recognized by large piles of sticks on an otherwise clear shoreline always have minnows. The numerous twigs and branches left by the beaver attract the minnows but can also cause damage to props. Be careful in these shallow waters. If you are able to  find any type of structure in shallower water put on your glasses and stop for a look. A little patience will often lead to pay dirt.

The best times to go minnow hunting are often in the afternoon. A bright, sunny, windless day
is the best of all. Other days look for secluded bays where the wind won't be a problem. Wind is always
a problem for a clear surface is best for viewing. If forced to go out on a windy day position yourself so
that your prime spot is on the side away from the wind.

HOW TO DO IT

To use a bait trap simply tear up a slice of bread and place it in the trap. Then position the trap in an area where minnows should be. That's it. Be sure to check your trap often so as not to waste fish. Traps should be checked at least every twenty-four hours. Dipping requires a little more work. Once you have
found your spot drop your two anchors. One off each end of the boat is best. Drop your net over the side
of the boat. Some people like to use a pole tied onto their pull string to keep the net farther from the boat.
This is an option you may want to try. Stand in the bottom of the boat not on a seat. Wait for minnows to
come onto your net. They will often swim over the net with no bait at first, curious to see what's new. Pull
quickly to create a bowingin the net. Use caution. I have seen several people fall out of boats by pulling to
hard. Finish each pull you make. There may be minnows on the net you don't see. When the minnows stop coming onto the net by themselves tear a small piece of bread off a slice and wet it in your minnow bucket.  Form it into a pasty ball in your hand. Try to throw the ball into the center of your net. The minnows should return to your net with renewed vigor.

Once you have caught your fill or the minnows have stopped cooperating they can be stored in a floating minnow pail. Some people store them in a refridgerator however the shock of going from cold to  warmer water may be to great for the minnow. Once you are finished fishing, minnows can only be released into the same body of water from which they were taken. It is illegal to sell minnows without a commercial sales license. There is a limit of one hundred and twenty bait-fish per valid fishing license.  Now you can always be assured of having enough bait for your next fishing excursion. Minnow hunting is also a nice outing for the children, a time to be out on the water together. Good luck on your next fishing trip. I know you'll always have lots of bait.

 

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