How to Trap Minnows in the Winter

How to Trap Minnows in the Winter

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Minnows are as effective as ice fishing bait as they are for summertime fishing. Minnows catch a wide variety of fish from pike and walleye to crappie and trout. And if your local bait shop has closed down for the season, or if you just want to save some money, catching your own minnows is always an option. Unfortunately, minnows can be hard to find in winter, but once you locate them they can be caught in the same minnow trap you used over the summer months.

Items you will need

  • Ice auger

  • Minnow trap

  • Bait

  • Rope or string

Locate an area that you believe will hold minnows. Minnows can be hard to find in winter, especially if lakes and ponds or frozen over, but may still be found in some shallow areas near deep water and in places where green vegetation survives through the winter.

Break a hole in the ice with an auger or drill. Make sure the hole is big enough to lower your minnow trap through. An ice pick or other tool can be used to widen the hole once it is drilled.

Bait your minnow trap with oatmeal or small pieces of bread and lower it into the hole. You may have to experiment with depth to find minnows; near bottom is usually best.

Tie a line from the trap to shore and attach it securely to a stationary object. Make sure you tie it somewhere you will be able to find it again. Another option is to mark the hole with a buoy tied to the trap.

Check the trap in a half hour to see if you have caught any minnows. If you have caught enough, you can pull up the trap and go fishing. If you have caught only a few, leave the trap overnight to catch more. If there are no minnows in the trap, it is best to try another spot.


  • Most states require that you have a valid fishing license to catch minnows for your own use and a separate shiner permit to sell them. To be sure, check your state's regulations before you start trapping minnows.
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