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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Newer doesn't always mean better. Plastic has put a lot of wood out of business. For minnows this isn't exactly a good thing.

Tho old minnow boxes we used to get when we rented a boat were the best. The wood absorbed the water and kept the minnows cool and moist when you had it in the boat. The top of the box hept the sunlight off the minnows again keeping them cool.

Now everyone uses the plastic minnow keepers with the swing hinged door. Works but not as good as the old box. In fact the plastic minnow keepers have probably killed more minnows than fish caught using them.

Buy a pint or quart and you have bait for a day. We fall into the trap that a minnow in water is doing fine. They aren't. Stick a pint or more into a small container like that with some water and you can sufficate them real fast.

In a matter of a few minutes the minnows will have used up all the oxygen in the water. You can see them at the surface gulping for air. Leave them that way too long and they die. Then the bait shops get blamed for bad bait.

I know a few fisherman who left the dock for a run out to Delaware Bay. When they arrived all their minnows were dead. Floating in the live minnow keeper.

The minnows would do better in the holder with no water and just damp. A shaded damp wooden minnow box is the ticket.

I know someone will jump in here about keeping minnows on damp paper with ice underneath. This way also works but has one drawback. Minnows like all fish are cold blooded. They can take extremes but not sudden changes. Take a minnow that is near ice and on cold wet paper then throw it into 70 degree water. The shock can kill it or at least do a number on its nerves so it can barely swim.

I do use the plastic minnow holder with one variation. I take a drill and poke about thirty holes through the bottom. Has two advantages.
First. It allows the water to drain out after I lift it into the boat. After a long run to the bay I can guarantee that a minnow left in a holder with water won't be as healthy as mine that are damp.
Second. When I finish fishing that day I tie the holder to the boat and drop it over. Now because I have drilled the holes I get a real good flow through of water. This keeps a constant supply of oxygenated water flowing past the minnows.

This season I am making a nice wooden box to hold about a quart of minnows. Not that difficult to do and I know it's the best way to keep them healthy. No better way to attract a flounder than having a real healthy and excited minnow jumping all over the place when it hits the bottom.

If you use a livewell here is a little trick for live bait. I like to throw a few chips of ice in with the bait. Nothing like what I was talking about with the damp paper and ice. Live bait in any confined area like a livewell will be stressed out. Suddenly their world got real small and it's bouncing all over the place. A few pieces of ice will drop the water a degree or two and take the edge off. It almost acts like a sedative.

Another tip is that minnows can to a degree lighten and darken in color. I always keep about seven in a whits bucket with just a little water. Once out of the holder, box or livewell they will be dark. After a short time in the white bucket exposed to sunlight they will loose that dark color.

Now you have just what you want. The brightest looking minnow sticking out on a dark bottom. Just like the Slim Jim it's screaming "EAT ME"
 

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fantastic post chunking, i swear by the wooden box to keep minnows in nothing IMHO keeps 'em fresher- i used to work at a boat rental place when i was younger that used those wooden boxes. every now and then at the end of the day (5:00) someone would put them away with minnows still in a box if the box was moist a good portion would still be alive the next morning at 7:00 am. I'm gonna have to make a new one this year b/c someone stole mine last year.
BTW i tought the light colored minnows from a light colored bucket was a secret who told you :D :D
Chunking will you be at the bb office party at barnaby's on 2/12, i'd really like to meet you, you seem to be an expert on everything, i'm sure i could learn a thing or two from you
 

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Drilling holes in bucket good idea,its the small amount of water that kills them.Wood minnow better idea.
 

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Hey Chunking, great post. I think the same thing holds true when you buy them. Your better off without the water in a bag. Just a moist paper container for the ride to the boat.
 

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Good post chunking, as an avid fluker, it used to be an obsession of mine to ensure my minnows stayed alive and frisky, not only for the days fishing but for the next weekend too! I don't use minnows much anymore, usually only in the back bays, but anyway I also found drilling holes in the bottom of the bucket worked best to keep them alive at the dock and it also makes it much, much easier to pick the good ones out of the bucket with all the water drained out of it! For the way out fishing and back, etc.. i usually fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and put the minnow bucket in it, changing the water on long moves, but found just keeping the bucket cool by draping a water soaked rag over top it worked just as well during transport. When drifting, then i put the bucket in the water. Just make sure it's tied to the boat :D The wooden boxes are fantastic for storage, but can be a pain to transport. The fisherman mag used to advertise a small one for like $30.

[ 02-04-2004, 04:25 PM: Message edited by: CaptG ]
 

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When i had to buy minnows last year(which is rare),i went to the girl's place,and i walked in with my wooden box,one of the girl's took measurements and said she was gonna build some!!!They are the best!!!I will never put my minnow's in plastic...I found 2 of them floating in the bay filled with minnows last year,Great to have some extra wooden boxes!!! :D :D

Great info Chunking!!!!......BTW...GREAT for eels too... ;)

[ 02-04-2004, 04:13 PM: Message edited by: fshlot ]
 

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Just when I think I'm an expert on bait preservation, you go and throw this one out there. Awesome post....Everytime you write,I LEARN....Thanks Chunking....
 

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Chunking,
I enjoyed the article!
Some years back Bobect's father and myself duplicated grass shrimp boxes for shrimping weekfish,they were made of cedar.
I also use these for keeping my minnows in while at the dock.
I learned to fish for flounder on the Reliance,it was docked at Kurtzs dock in the crest,and owned by my cousin Frank Canning.
The name was carried over to my sons charter boat
that operates out of Hatteras and OceanCity MD.
Would like to get back to the flounder in CapeMay and the Crest this summer.
By next year I should be living on the OuterBanks on a full time basis.. JP

[ 02-04-2004, 06:46 PM: Message edited by: JP Canning ]
 

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If you do use the yellow and white plastic holder, the first thing to go is the black handle. THe black handle will eventually pull out. Use a length of 1/4" braided line with a bowline in place of the handle. 3 strand will unravel. I put it in a full 5 gal bucket for traveling to the old grounds or up the bay.
 

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Minnows are alot sturdier than most people think. Been fishing most of my life with minnies in a 5 gal bucket. As long as you change the water enough they do fine. A wet rag over the top keeps the minnies from jumping out and the sun off.

At the dock the minnies go straight from the bucket to the wooden holder. Same size and shape as the ones gramps built when he was renting boats. If you're gonna keep them over the week you just have to make sure they get fed plenty. As chunking said in the other post they are voracious little fish. Stale bread and a bunker tail usually do the trick. If you don't they start to bite each other in the back and tails. Actually any leftovers from the dinner table will feed them fine.
 

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There is a small tackel store in Ventnor, Ship Shop. They sell the old style cedar minnow boxes. They have 3 sizes. The extra large is great for keeping large quantities at the dock.

Tight Lines & Safe Returns,
Saltshaker
 

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We keep minnows in a cooler on ice. Take a small cooler, put an ice pack in the bottom,then we have a tray made out of screen shaped to fit in the cooler which holds the minnows. Before we put the bait in, we put a damp towel between the minnows and the screen.They last all day, no bait holder to forget over the side and they really get lively when they are put in the water. An added feature, we replaced the lid with a piece of wood , now we have a place to cut bait on top of the cooler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry flukerat.

Won't be able to make it to barnaby's for the party.

Lots happening at our dock and I need to be around for that.

Thanks for the invite. Maybe next time. :cool:
 

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:cool: You learn by your mistakes. If you plan to build a minnow box DO NOT use pressure treated wood. It will leach out the preservative and kill the minnows in a few days. If you want to use PT wood, age the wood in water for at least a month (after assembly).
 

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I made a couple over the last few years out of white cedar. Made them during the winter and let the grandchildren help by banging in the nails and so on. Then I let them write their names on the sides. Makes for good memories and also something to get your mind off this weather!
 

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Good stuff here. I always keep my minnows in a minnow trap and just put corks in the open ends. The trap beings it is heavier and does not float remains down deeper at the dock in the cooler water and the minnows stay healthier. Plus out of sight of thiefs. I suspend the trap about a foot off the bottom to keep the mud etc. from clinging to the sides of the trap. Throw a fish carcass in there after cleaning and those baits will keep a very long time. While on the water I just dump the entire trap full of minnows in my live well. I like the ice cube idea to cool down the water a bit. Those plastic holders never seem to work for me and always get scummed up and eventually break.
 

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Can anybody post a pic or directions?Would love to make one but have'nt seen one in 25 yrs.R&R
 
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