For many anglers, live bait such as worms, crickets, and minnows are a distant memory of the days before they were introduced to lures. However, even with the thousands of lures available on the market today, you can still find bait shops all over the country. This is due to the simple fact that live bait produces consistent results every time. One of the most popular prey items for many species is the minnow, which is why you can find them at virtually any bait shop you walk into. Though whether you’re heading out for crappie or trying to entice bass, it’s important to know how to properly rig, fish, and event transport the minnows to ensure that you take full advantage of such effective bait.
The first measure you’ll need to take is making sure you’re equipped with a light rod with slow action. The slower rod will allow you to cast the minnow without whipping it harshly, causing it to become detached. Light lines and smaller hooks are also advised, as the lighter weight enables the minnow to swim more freely and naturally.
As far as rigging the minnows is concerned, you have a few options. Simply hooking the minnow through the lips works well, since it allows it to swim at its leisure. However, this method prevents minnows from drawing air to their gills and causes them to die after a short time. Another method involves delicately hooking the minnow in front of the dorsal fin, taking care to pierce only the skin and not its spine. This method keeps minnows alive for longer. If your main concern is keeping the minnow rigged, and not keeping it alive, then another option involves using a sewing needle to thread your line through the minnow’s mouth and out the anus. Then you can tie on your hook and bury the shank in the minnow’s body. This rig will keep your minnow hooked for a long time, even in rough water. You can also hook the minnow just above the tail. Fishing the minnows is quite easy, since, by swimming around, they do most of the work for you. If you need to get your minnows to deeper water, I suggest adding a small split shot to the line.
Since minnows must remain in water, transporting them can be a hassle. A former coworker of mine was headed out for perch one morning and, as he was driving, his minnow bucket spilled all over the inside of his car. He managed to clean it up as best as he could, but you really can’t get rid of the smell of dead fish. Needless to say, I suggest keeping the minnow bucket in your boat as you drive to the water, or having someone with you who can hold onto it.
While minnows can be cumbersome to transport and a bit tedious to rig, they really do outperform lures in any given situation. Many species feed on minnows as a primary food source and capitalizing on this biological fact during your next trip could fill your livewell faster than you think.