Fishing with Minnows

When you go to your local fishing supply store you can be easily over-whelmed by all the different lures that line the aisles. Fishing really is a multi-million dollar business and those lure companies need to keep on coming out with new and exciting products to keep on making a profit and keep you buying. Buying all these products and specific baits for specific conditions can really hit your bottom line. Unless you are an avid angler I would suggest that you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy any lures for your first time fishing. All you will need is some hooks, bobbers, and weights. As for bait try using the most natural thing you can, live minnows.

What do all the lures try to do? They all are attempts to mimic the real thing, the fish’s natural prey, minnows. Professionals can only use artificial baits when they are competing and of course they are sponsored by these multi-million dollar companies so that is what they try to recommend to all anglers. However, if you are a recreational angler or a first timer, a minnow is the perfect way to go. It is also a great way to introduce children to angling. Many kids don’t like that idea of putting a worm on a hook, but baiting a fish always seems to be easier for them to stomach, and it can be very entertaining for them to look in the minnow bucket and see the one or two dozen minnows swimming around.

Minnows can usually be purchased around any major fishing lake. Your best bet is to ask a local and they can usually point you in the right direction. These are usually small mom and pop style shops and if you chat them up you can usually get a little information about where the best places to fish are or at least what seems to be biting. Depending on the bait shop, minnows can often be purchased in different sizes, small, medium, and large and they are usually purchased in one or two dozen. Most bait shops will put your minnows in a plastic bag and they will pump in oxygen to keep the minnows alive, however it is a good idea to have some sort of a bucket with you. There are several types of specifically designed minnow buckets on the market that can be purchased for a few bucks. Some are just buckets, others are buckets with an aerator to pump in oxygen so the minnows can survive longer while others are buckets with perforated holes in them so you can actually put the bucket in the lake where you are fishing in order to let the minnows survive that much longer. Don’t worry, these style of minnow buckets have a trap door that will not allow the minnows to escape.
Plano 700 Bait Bucket - Fishing Access/equip

Minnows are pretty hearty little fish and they will survive quite some time in a bucket or even in the plastic bag that they come in. Of course this all depends on where you store them. If you put them out in the direct sunlight of a hot summers day then they will not survive for long, but if they are kept in a shaded are, or better yet, in the lake where you are fishing, then they can survive all day or even a few days.

There are many ways to bait a minnow. I will cover these ways in a later article/video. However, just to hold you over before then, you can hook a minnow through the nostril, through the back bone, or even through the meaty part of the tail. The idea is to not kill the minnow but to hook it in a way that it will look injured. Fish can’t resist an easy meal like this and will gobble it up. If are lucky enough to get larger minnows make sure that you use a wire or fluorocarbon leader as this can entice a bite from a larger predatory fish with teeth like a pike or walleye. Once the minnow is hooked all you have to do is cast it out there on a bobber and wait for a bite.

Personally I love to fish so I have quite an array of tackle, but I still do use minnows from time to time. If I don’t feel like casting every few seconds or am just relaxing then I will always go for the minnow. The main time I use minnows is when I’m ice fishing. There are many minnow suppliers in and around Lake Simcoe, where I tend to go, and they are readily available. The perch, whitefish and the occasional lake trout love these little guys and by hooking up a minnow it allows me to put my rod down and warm up my hands.

The next time you head out fishing, give your lures a rest and try using the natural prey, minnows.