How to Preserve Minnows for Bait

How to Preserve Minnows for Bait
Every fishing enthusiast has had to deal with spoiled and wasted bait. They've spent their time and energy actually catching minnows or other small fish to use in sport fishing, but what happens when bait fish go bad before you can use them? Being proactive and preserving the minnows or other small fish while they are still fresh will ensure that you will have the best bait possible.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 48-qt. cooler
  • Bag of ice
  • Water
  • 4 lbs. of salt
  • Gallon storage bags
  • Cardboard box lid
Step 1
Take a 48-qt. cooler filled halfway with ice and fill it with 4 to 5 inches of water from the lake or stream where you are fishing. Pour in 3 lbs. of salt and stir until the salt is partially dissolved. Take the minnows and slowly lower them into the water, covering them with the undissolved salt at the bottom of the cooler. If you'd like to preserve more bait, add more water to the cooler, then add the fish, making sure that all the fish are covered by the brine solution.
Step 2
Take the bait minnows home, and take the bucket outside into the shade and lay the minnows out on a table. Take 1-gallon storage bags and place 12 small bait fish into the bag and then cover liberally with salt. Next, place another 12 fish into the bag and cover those liberally with salt. Salt is a natural preservative, so it is OK to use as much as you need.
Step 3
Remove as much air as possible from the bags before sealing and make sure they aren't overfilled. Air can cause fresh food (like fish, meat, vegetables, etc.) to spoil. Shake the bag gently to thoroughly coat the bait with salt (think of it as a marinade, coating the minnows).
Step 4
Lay out the bait in the lid of a cardboard box. Lay each bag flat so that the cold of the freezer reaches each bag evenly. Then, place the cardboard box lid (with the bags in it) into the freezer.
Step 5
Grab the amount of bait you want to use when you're ready for your fishing trip, and place it into a cooler of ice to keep it from completely thawing out. Your bait will smell and look fresh and be irresistible to the fish you are trying to catch.

Tips & Warnings

Don't take more fish that you'll actually be able to use later. Taking fish is taking a food source for animals, so be moderate.
Having two dozen fish in each bag is the easiest way to ration out bait to ensure you will have enough on the next fishing trip.
Once the bait is frozen, you can rearrange it in the freezer (without the box), to allow for room for other foods, if needed.

Article Written By Kelsey Childress

Kelsey Childress runs a freelance creative business called Awen Creative that specializes in SEO Web content, social media marketing and blogging. She has been writing for online and in-print publications for over six years, and has a bachelor's degree in English literature and creative writing from Kansas State University.

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