How to Keep Minnows Alive

How to Keep Minnows AliveMinnows are one of the best all around baits you can use to catch fish. Rigging your line with a minnow will catch everything from bass, trout, catfish, crappies, walleyes and perch. Keeping your minnows alive will assure you catch more fish, and doing so isn't difficult or expensive. In fact, you probably have most of the supplies you'll need already at home. By following a few basic tips, you can keep your minnows alive and kicking for days.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Keeping Minnow Alive While You Fish

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bait bucket Aerator Styrofoam cooler Ice Hydrogen peroxide Creek/lake water Distilled water
  • Bait bucket
  • Aerator
  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Ice
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Creek/lake water
  • Distilled water
Step 1
Fill your bait bucket with natural water, such as from a creek or lake. If none is available, fill it with distilled water. Do not put your minnows in tap water, as the chemicals in it may kill them.
Step 2
Place the plastic bag containing the minnows in the bait bucket. Allowing your minnows to adjust to the difference in water temperatures will keep them alive for a longer period of time. Otherwise, they may suffer shock from the extreme temperature difference and die.
Step 3
Remove the minnows from the plastic bag and pour them directly into the bait bucket after approximately 15 minutes. By then they should have become adjusted to the water temperature.
Step 4
Keep your bait bucket in the body of water you are fishing in to keep air moving through it. Minnows need oxygen to survive, so it's imperative you keep fresh water flowing through the bucket.
Step 5
Place an aerator into the bucket to keep oxygen moving through it, if you plan on keeping the bait bucket out of water for any period of time. Minnows like cooler water; they might die if the water in the bucket becomes too warm. If this happens, you can place an ice cube into the bucket to cool the water down.

Keeping Minnows Alive at Home

Step 1
Fill a Styrofoam cooler with natural water from a creek or lake. If you don't have any, fill the cooler with distilled water. A Styrofoam cooler will maintain more of a constant temperature, and you'll be able to keep the water cool.
Step 2
Place your minnows in a plastic bag filled with the water they're presently in and place it in the cooler full of water. Allow them to adjust to the new temperature for approximately 15 minutes before setting them free.
Step 3
Place the cooler in a cool, dark area to keep the minnows alive longer. Your goal is to keep the water cool; placing the cooler in a lighted area will cause the water to become warmer.
Step 4
Place an aerator inside of the cooler to give the minnows oxygen. If you don't have an aerator, place a few capfuls of hydrogen peroxide in the water so oxygen will form. You'll want to repeat this occasionally to keep the water oxygenated.
Step 5
Place several cubes of ice in the cooler so the water will remain cool. Repeat this as the ice melts. The minnows won't last for long in water that has turned warm. Refresh the water with distilled water as needed.

Tips & Warnings

Placing live minnows on a wet towel and then inside your cooler will keep them alive for quite a while when you're fishing.

Article Written By Joyce Starr

Joyce Starr is a professional writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawn care and gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.

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