If you plan to fish with live or frozen bait, there aren’t many options that can surpass mud minnows. This species works as excellent natural bait for a variety of fish, can be used in combination with several types of rigs, and are easy to acquire. We’ll go over why you should consider incorporating mud minnows into your fishing and when and how to use them to their best advantage.
Why Mud Minnows Are Great Bait
As far as live bait, mud minnows (also called bull minnows) are one of the easiest to find in bait stores, which means you’ll have no problem purchasing them from shops with high-quality supplies. That’s especially important if you plan on using them as live bait, which is where mud minnows shine.
Their success when fishing for popular catches like trout, flounder, large-mouth bass, or redfish makes mud minnows an excellent all-around bait to work with. This is in part because they live in a relatively wide range of aquatic habitats, including brackish and saltwater environments.
As a result, they’re great options for catching the attention of the variety of larger fish species that prey on them. In particular, their highly visible movements in the water attracts the attention of their predator fish.
And, they tend to stay in the same areas year-round, which means that they’re readily available to catch and replenish bait stores even when other bait species have migrated out during cold seasons. The local fish that prey on them will have become even more reliant on mud minnows as a food source during these times, making them great to have on hand if you plan to fish in late fall or winter in temperate climates.
When to Use Mud Minnows as Bait
A lot of the advantages for mud minnows are comparable with those of finger mullets, another commonly available bait that you might consider. However, one of the biggest upsides to use mud minnows over finger mullets is their longevity.
Whether you’re using mud minnows for bucket fishing, storing them as live bait outside of replenished water, or hooking them through the mouth or eyes, mud minnows are a fairly hardy species. In comparison, fish like finger mullets won’t last nearly as long in the same conditions.
If you’re fishing for species that can take a long time between bites or plan on catching and storing your mud minnows, that level of survival can save you quite a lot of time and money. In contrast, if you were to rely on a less hardy fish for your bait, you would either face losing the advantage of live, moving bait on the hook or have to replace the bait on your hook more frequently, both of which could make your fishing trips more expensive and less successful in the long run.
How to Catch Mud Minnows
The easiest way to catch mud minnows is by using a baited minnow trap. All you have to do is bait the trap with some kind of meat with a strong scent trail and leave the trap long enough to catch your bait for you. Bacon, shrimp, or pieces of fish are a few popular and inexpensive choices to use as minnow bait.
Generally, mud minnows will stick to relatively shallow water, so that’s where you should leave your baited minnow traps. They particularly like to accumulate in the mud for which they’re named, so leaving your minnow traps near muddied shore and river beds by docks, bridged, and other structures is a sure way to catch plenty of mud minnows.
How to Store Mud Minnows
As mentioned before, mud minnows are a very hardy species of fish, so storing them for long-term use or lengthier fishing techniques, like bait bucket fishing, is hard to get wrong.
Generally, you’ll want to aim to replenish and/or replace the water in a bait bucket with mud minnows between every 2 and 3 hours if you plan to leave the bucket in place for a full day. If you want to go longer between water refreshments, set a bait buck with continuous aeration, and then you can more than double the time that you can leave the bucket between water refreshes.
If you’re storing them to use as bait in the future, make sure to avoid storing their container in direct sunlight. If mud minnows are kept at too high of a temperature, the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water will drop.
Not only will the lowered oxygen decrease the mud minnows’ survival rate, but it will also make them move more slowly, which is the exact opposite of what you want if you’re planning to use them as live bait directly from that container.
How to Use Mud Minnows as Bait
When using mud minnows, you’ll want to use a circle hook that’s pushed through the lips of the mud minnow. Take the point of the hook and attach it first through the bottom lip and out through the top lip. You can use any size hook that allows you to hook the mud minnow cleanly while keeping it alive, and a 2/0 size hook is usually big enough to get the job done.
Although they can often survive for some time with a hook through their eyes, this method will ensure they stay alive the longest and keep their movement natural-looking to the eyes of other fish.
Then, you’ll want to add enough weight to keep them floating at the depth of your desired catch, which will vary based on both the location where you’re fishing as well as the particular species you’re targeting. When shallow-water fishing, you may be able to get away with not using any weight at all.
You’ll also need to attach your hook to a leader between 6 and 14 inches long to allow the mud minnow the freedom to move on the hook, attempt to swim down and away from the surface, and catch the attention of prey without giving them too long a line.
Overall, mud minnows make great bait for a variety of fish, especially when you vary your methods to target each catch properly. Whether floating mud minnows along the shoreline to catch flounder or baitcasting them into open water using a float to attract trout or bass, mud minnows always make an excellent bait to keep on hand.