Mud minnows, also called bull minnows, or killifish, are a popular bait for fishing saltwater estuaries and backwater. Flounder, in particular, are fond of these little morsels, although redfish, sea trout and other inshore game fish species will also take mud minnows. These tough little fish are relatively easy to catch with a standard minnow trap, and they will remain alive in a bait bucket for days.
Any minnow trap will do for catching mud minnows. Several different designs are available. Most are square or circular containers of monofilament or wire mesh with inward-facing, cone-shaped entrances at either end. The mud minnows can enter the cone easily, but cannot navigate out. These traps are easy to bait, place, retrieve and empty.
Try different baits to see which works best in your area. Crushed crabs, cut bait, shrimp heads, fish scraps, raw bacon, lunch meat or anything with protein in it will usually perform well. Bread dough balls or cat or dog food also may attract mud minnows to a trap.
North Carolina Sportsman recommends that if you are placing mud minnow traps in non-tidal areas, position the trap with around one-fourth to one-third of the trap above the water surface to correspond with the depth at which mud minnow swim. For tidal areas, position the trap in the same manner at low tide, when mud minnows are most active.
According to Florida Sport Fishing's website, locate your minnow trap in feeder creeks, tidal cuts or shallows areas around the edges of marsh grass in estuaries where mud minnows dwell. As fish move from open water to the safety of the marsh, particularly during an incoming tide, mud minnows will often enter traps to feed.
Check your traps regularly to retrieve minnows. Every half hour or so is a good interval, since mud minnows can quickly collect in traps. Empty the trap, add more bait and reset the trap if you need more bait.
Keeping the Catch
Mud minnows will survive in a bucket of water collected from where they were caught, often for several days. To keep your mud minnows alive even longer, place them in an aerated bait bucket and change the water once a day. According to Amelia Island Fishing, this will keep them alive for weeks.