DoorGunner

If you use the two cone minnow trap.

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We have some huge minnows in Jersey but these traps just won't let them in. Holes are just way too small. I always take a wooden dowel or even a broom handle and slam it through to widen the hole. May get a few more small crabs in it but it will pay off with some of the biggest minnows you will ever see. Another little trick is to check the openings every time you use them. Sometimes, in fact very often the holes will collapse a little or the edge of the hole will have some points that will fold back reducing the size of the opening. Always have something to push through to keep the hole round and free of sharp points blocking the way. When I get to the dock in a little while I will take some picks.

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Either push a broom handle through it or cut some out with snips. By enlarging the hole by this much you will be able to catch minnows twice the size the factory allows for. Just make sure any points of the mesh don't block any of the opening. Don't leave the big one outside looking in.

 

From the factory.

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After an upgrade.

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3 mins ago, southjerz said:

What do you place inside for bait?

 

Almost anything, but a smashed up Blue Claw is an awesome bait.

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3 hours ago, Mono said:

At what depth do you place the trap?

It's all about the tide. Minnows move in and out of tidal creeks with the tide. They know how to survive so they keep just enough water under them so a predator can't sneak in under them and just enough water above them so predators like egrets, gulls an herons can't pick them off. 

Around our dock it's the same thing. When the water if just the right depth with about two feet under them and a foot or so above them I can pull in minnows for about twenty minutes and then they just move further up under the dock to keep that safe space. I don't care what kind of bait I use, when the water gets too deep they just leave and it's not gradual. Lights out, parties over, gone. Can catch them again at the same depth on the outgoing. 

Sure sign the water is to deep is if you pull shiners or spearing in with the traps. Spearing travel in slightly deeper water.

You can use just about anything for bait like bread, broken up crabs, hot dogs, fish scraps and bunker. I use bunker and cut down one side to the tail exposing the entire side of flesh and the minnows go crazy over the oily scent. Once they strip that side down I do the other. Crabs, fish scraps and bread make it much harder to seperate minnows from bait where you can just lift the bunker out and dump the minnows then drop the bunker right back in. 

Nothing to perk you up than catching your own minnows and knowing you have a healthy active bait to drop down.    

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Back in the 80's when I caught minnows for a living for two years I still used these same minnow pots. Today we have other style pots that people set and leave for a tide. Only problem there is these pots can go missing and our last supplier we had for our shop lost more than a few every year. Back then besides making money I also got a kick watching how everything worked out there in the shallow tidal creeks. 

Take my aluminum flat bottom right up these skinny creeks then get out and walk the edge of these creeks, picking spots where I wanted to place my pots. Had a 6X4 live cart tied to the boat and a bucket full of bunker. So many tiny feeder creeks out there that only had enough room for one of these minnow pots. Walk the meadow and place one pot at the mouth of each tiny feeder. Kind of neat trying to be one step ahead of where they were going and intercepting them. It was like a class room out there and I learned so much. 

Minnows are always giving birth in the wild so there is a continuous food supply because big minnows eat smaller minnows. They are their own worst enemy. So when they move with the tide they move to protect themselves. Newly hatched babies head into the feeders when the water is no more than a half inch deep. Too small for a bird to be interested and too shallow for a larger minnow to move in to chow down. These babies are followed by small minnows for a short time then slightly larger minnows. Not worth while setting a pot because they can actually swim right through the mesh of the pot. Then it shifts big time as the jumbo bad ass minnows head up. You can score some of the biggest minnows you will ever see for a very short period of time. I would target this short window when one of my customers in Philly wanted ten gallons of the largest I could catch for Muskie bait. These minnows can live in fresh or salt. He was the only customer who wanted these jumbos because he sold them one at a time. Marinas and bait shops down here never wanted the jumbos because they were sold by the half or whole pint or quart and it only took a few to fill a pint container. 

Had one customer who sold them by the half or whole pint but also by the dozen. Way back in the 80's he sold them for $3.00 a pint, $1.50 a half pint and $.75 a dozen. I had just delivered ten gallons to him when a customer came into his shop and ordered a half pint. In the minnow bucket they went after being measured in one of those Chinese take out containers. The guy paid the $1.50 but as he walked out the door he looked into the bucket. Walked back and put the bucket on the counter and asked, $1.50 for a half pint or $.75 a dozen. The owner smiled and said yes. The man asked for three more minnows and $.75 back. Only took nine minnows to make the half pint and these weren't even the jumbo minnows. When the customer left the owner took down the dozen sign.

Those three years were the hardest I have ever worked. Heat, bugs, weather, transporting the minnows and customers always wanting more and when will they arrive. Plus the pressure of knowing that on some days I only needed seventeen gallons of minnows but on others it would be twenty seven and that was just minnows, no water. Hardest job I ever had but also the most fun because I was as close to nature as one could get and I learned so much. Nature is a great teacher and has the best classrooms on the planet. And minnows are the most badass fish our waters have ever seen. Saltwater Piranha. Take a jumbo minnow and check out the mouth. Very wide face and mouth. If you get the chance put your finger nail in between it's lips and pull the lower lip down. The amount and size of their teeth is spooky. Thank god that even a jumbo minnow is small because if these things ever reached ten pounds we wouldn't be able to go into the water. Strip you down to the bone in minutes. 

The customer from Philly called me after his father picked up the ten gallons of jumbos and delivered them. He loved them but told me he had never seen minnows this big. Joking he said he will tell his customers that they just need to hook them through the tail and toss one out. When a Muskie swims by the minnow will grab it and then reel it in. He had to feed his bait supply and he knew just how nasty the minnows can get. Stick his hand in the tank and the minnows would actually pull the hairs right off his arms. 

Sorry if I got carried away here but they are fascinating.     

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One last tip if you use these cone shaped pots. Make sure they lay so they are lined up with the holes in line with the tide. If it's sideways the minnows will just go around it. Catch a few but not many if it isn't lined up. Minnows are just passing through with the tide and won't linger for very long.

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Followed Fred's tip to enlarge the holes quite a few years ago. It works! I always catch the big ones right off my dock. The bigger minnows seem to produce the keeper fluke too.

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17 mins ago, Rageboat said:

Followed Fred's tip to enlarge the holes quite a few years ago. It works! I always catch the big ones right off my dock. The bigger minnows seem to produce the keeper fluke too.

Great info Fred.......welcome aboard Kev.

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46 mins ago, rockyoutdoors said:

Great post my very old friend. So when you and Moses were hanging together down by the river did he part the water for you?

Yes but I had to show him how. 

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