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schwartyman
member (38)member
 
03/12/2020 11:41AM
I didn't want to hijack walleyewhips post so here's a new thread for bringing in minnows.

Looking for responses from groups who have successfully brought in, kept alive, and used live minnows on BWCA trips.

I did this on a quick 3-day trip on an entry point lake in late September, just to have around 50% die on me.

I'll be doing a near 60 mile fishing-focused trip in May through prime walleye waters and am contemplating giving this another try. I always single portage, but this trip will be eight days and would consider double-portaging with minnows if it meant a decent difference in fishing productivity.

Last year, as we all know, was a brutally cold spring and water temps stayed low until early June. For me, at least, using leeches was rather ineffective. Anywhere outside the BWCA, I'd be using minnows in May, but have stuck to leeches due to the obvious hassle.

So far, things are trending towards a much warmer spring than last year, but I'd still like to see people's thoughts and ideas.
 
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Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13089)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
03/12/2020 12:54PM
Our group has successfully brought in minnows. You just need to change the water often. You also need to keep them in deep water, not floating by the shore. This is for two reasons, to get them down to the water that is cold and has oxygen, and to hopefully keep them from otters and turtles. Put a small rock so they sink, bring another minnow bucket for your day fishing. Keep your day fishing minnows in the water and shade when fishing. So this will require you to sink the bucket. Remove dead minnows as soon as possible so you don’t contaminate the rest. The dead ones will still catch fish so you might want to try them.

Then there is the way you are supposed to transport them. When portaging with them you are supposed to dump the water out at that lake then go over the portage. This is so you don’t transfer water born things like zebra mussels and milfoil. But in most cases this will kill the minnows. So just walk across the portage and dump the water out in the woods, then quickly fill with fresh water.
 
buzz17
distinguished member (289)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/12/2020 01:41PM
I will caveat this statement by saying all of my May trips have been base camps (15+).

If you can get rainbow chubs, they are by far the most hardy of the minnows. They will handle travel and water changes. The question is how many do you bring? Too many in an enclosed space will kill a percentage off. IMHO rainbows will outfish any other live bait in May hands down, dead or alive.

Traveling the distance you are planning, I would recommend getting enough rainbows to last you as long as possible, saving dead ones and using them until they wont stay on the hook. To further your live bait fishing I would bring night crawlers. I have not experienced a time of year when they are not effective.

Don't shy away from rainbow chubs that time of year, they are money!
 
Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/12/2020 03:56PM
My opinion on this is unless you are doing 1-2 shorter portages and base camping, salted Minnows would be the better option. Of course, everyone of us makes their own gear decisions, weight, etc., but for me to bring in the water (and weight) required to keep them alive on way in, well I rather that liquid be beer or some nice Irish whiskey.

I often wonder exactly how many people have used salted minnows because they are truly deadly. Once you use them, you will understand. It’s not just that the salt preserves the minnows, I believe it actually turns on the fish much more. I can easily bring in 100 salted minnows in a small ziplock. They work on all fish species but lakers and brookies go crazy for them.

Even if taking in live minnows, maybe take along some salted ones as well and see how they work for you. Don’t buy them, salt them yourself (it’s easy) so you know you have the real deal, some store bought preserved minnows are not as good.

Moonman
 
moustachesteve
member (49)member
 
03/13/2020 07:38AM
Moonman - This is probably an elementary question but how are you rigging salted minnows? If they're dead they won't swim and I assume they won't float, so a traditional Lindy-style rig wouldn't work in my mind (I suppose you could use a floating jig). Or do you just throw them on a spoon treble and cast/troll as usual with a little meat to entice? Just curious if I'm missing something obvious or overthinking this.

I'm considering salting some and bringing in with me for lakers and brook trout in late May/early June so I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks!
 
Moonman
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03/13/2020 08:34AM
moustachesteve: "Moonman - This is probably an elementary question but how are you rigging salted minnows? If they're dead they won't swim and I assume they won't float, so a traditional Lindy-style rig wouldn't work in my mind (I suppose you could use a floating jig). Or do you just throw them on a spoon treble and cast/troll as usual with a little meat to entice? Just curious if I'm missing something obvious or overthinking this.


I'm considering salting some and bringing in with me for lakers and brook trout in late May/early June so I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks!"


Two main ways. Firstly right on the bottom, from camp, using a an egg sinker. Rig it with a swivel after threading the egg sinker on so the fish can take the bait and run without feeling the weight (lindy style). I now actually pick my campsites with this in mind, not only access to wood, protection from wind in storms etc, but what the bottom is like in terms of depth, composition, drop offs etc for fishing from shore. The other way I use them is tipping a white bucktail jig for vertical jigging. The last few years it has been a deadly technique for me. Basically like ice fishing for lakers, teasing the fish up by pulling away the jig when I Mark one coming in. On last year’s trip I was talking to a buddy who paddled over to me and was about 20’ away. As we were talking I glanced down at my finder and saw a big fish slide in below my bucktail. I started calling it like a play by play. I started reeling up the bucktail and could see the laker on the screen swimming up to grab it... I was calling it out to my buddy,’here he comes gonna hit ...now!’ Then wham. A fat 6 pounder. Buddy couldn’t believe it. In all honestly I think that fish would have hit the bucktail without the salted Minnow but it really sealed the deal. Right before that fish my son caught similar sized fish vertically jigging with a blue silver little Cleo also tipped with a saltie. Another approach that I have not used personally but seen work is a salted Minnow under a slip float. 2 years ago my buddy’s 11 year old son rigged one up in camp and casted out. Shore there was only 6-8’ deep. I told my son to use an egg sinker set up as I didn’t think the float would work as well. A nice brookie grabbed the Minnow under the float then jumped with it. The kids were yelling but we (me and my buddy) didn’t believe them as we didn’t think the fish would be that shallow etc. (and 11 year old boys like to exaggerate a lot..) the boys were sure it was a fish so they reeled in and put another Minnow on...a minute later that fish hits again and they land a nice 14” brookie so I guess slip floats do work!

Moonman.
 
moustachesteve
member (49)member
 
03/13/2020 09:37AM
Thanks for the reply. The vertical jigging method makes sense b/c you can give it action just like ice fishing. For the slip sinker rig, I've always used Powerbait because it floats. With the salted minnow, do the fish take it sitting on bottom? I guess I just figured they wouldn't "find" it as well as a floating bait.
 
Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/13/2020 11:23AM
Yes they will take it right off bottom. They have no problem finding it at all. I remember one of the first times my group used salted Minnows. We were at a campsite that had about 15’ of water a cast length from shore (perfect). Earlier in the morning I caught two lakers on streamer flies but by 9:30-10, the fish stopped hitting. We had 4 canoes in our group and all of us were trolling just off the site along shore with no fish, hits or anything. We head in, and my buddy says let’s try the salted Minnows while we take a break and make lunch. Hooked one up and cast out, as I put my rod down on a cheap shore fishing rod holder it flopped over like it wasn’t set right, I picked it up but there was a fish on...like literally 10 seconds. Lost that fish on a poor hook set and cast out again. Fish on in about a minute. We caught 6 in about 20 minutes and the rest of the guys were scrambling to set up a salted Minnow. Now there was likely a bunch of fish just offshore that were already there and willing to eat, but they were definitely not hitting any lures or flies, and had no problems finding the Minnows. Honestly the salt smell must be very strong and leave a scent trail.

I should add that the 10-20’ depth range is probably best. One year we thought having deeper water would be better so we set up camp off a steep drop off which probably had 50’ of water 30 yards out. Nada (except a nice burbut). I think when lakers are feeding they are along shores in the 10-20’ range and of course even shallower in morning and evening.

Moonman
 
CampSR
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
03/14/2020 07:53AM
Moonman - great advice here, considering it for a late May/early June trip to Oyster this year. Do you have recommendations on salting/preserving method? TIA!
 
CampSR
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
03/14/2020 08:54AM
 
Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/14/2020 02:01PM
CampSR: "Moonman - great advice here, considering it for a late May/early June trip to Oyster this year. Do you have recommendations on salting/preserving method? TIA!"

Campsr, there are many ways to do it but my way is one I read on a forum somewhere long ago and it really works well. I particularly like to use shiners and in winter here they are in most bait shops for ice fishing. I will salt some after an ice fishing trip but usually just buy some around this time of year. Live Minnows are best to salt with this method which I will explain.

Get your Minnows home and then keeping them in the water they come in, dump in a bunch of coarse non iodized pickling or kosher salt. I get the cheapest stuff I can find at Walmart etc. shiners are already shinny of course, but for some reason the salt in their water makes them even shinier, and of course kills them. When dead, dump out the water, and place Minnows on paper towels to remove excess water. Now get your salting container/Tupperware etc, lay down a layer of salt, then place Minnows on salt. Lay more salt over Minnows. Try and keep Minnows from touching each other, as they will not dry as well in those areas. Add another layer of Minnows and repeat as needed. The bigger and fatter the Minnows, the longer it takes to dry them out. If you place the Minnows in the fridge, your wife will get mad and it will take much longer to dry them. I used to do that but now I place them in a basement window with sun hitting it during day. With this location the Minnows are ready in about 5-7 days. The fridge took several weeks.

Tips: Minnows at the bottom of your container will be slower to dry, as the moisture does not evaporate as readily as the upper layer Minnows. Depending on how deep you go, the bottom ones take longer etc. Minnows treated in this method work much better than not dumping salt into the water. Not just lacking that extra shininess, I believe they take in more salt into their bodies this way and are more potent (after doing it both ways and comparing results etc). Also, this is a big thing, you want the Minnows dry but still pliable and slightly soft -not bone dry and super stiff. For your trip place Minnows in a ziplock. There are usually a few Particles of salt that stick to each Minnow so in the ziplock they are still slightly drying out and continue being preserved for your trip but you can add a small handfull of salt if desired. At start of trip I put the Minnows in my small cooler with meat etc but once at camp usually just toss them in the food bag at night and they last just fine 5-6 days no probs and when we get home, if I have a bunch left, just toss them in the freezer. I label my bags with the date, older Minnows (several year’s old) work, but don’t work as well as fresh, I use the older ones to chum when ice fishing.

Moonman.
 
Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/14/2020 02:25PM
I feel like I have hijacked this thread a bit, sorry about that! Live Minnows obviously work great and I use them all the time walleye fishing in the boat lol!

Moonman.
 
WhiteWolf
distinguished member(4191)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
03/14/2020 05:41PM
old timers I used to fish with (all passed on) swore by also adding a small amount of sugar to the salt mix-- they said it helped quicken the process of curing.
 
CampSR
senior member (74)senior membersenior member
 
03/18/2020 07:50AM
Moonman: "I feel like I have hijacked this thread a bit, sorry about that! Live Minnows obviously work great and I use them all the time walleye fishing in the boat lol!


Moonman."


May have been a bit of a hijack, but I do appreciate you giving some insight and advice on this. Thanks!!
 
schwartyman
member (38)member
 
03/18/2020 08:18AM
I also appreciate the info from all!
 
schucanoe
member (30)member
 
03/18/2020 11:52AM
I agree with Moonman. For me salted minnows are the way to go. We used to bring leeches on our Quetico trips and they too were a hassle to transport and keep alive especially as water temps began to warm so we made the switch to salted minnows. Unless fishing a leech below a bobber we saw no drop off in action using a salted minnow on a jig while fishing vertical or slowly dragging. Unfortunately for us Quetico banned the use of salted minnows as well several years ago and we were left to figure out other presentations. We used to salt our own minnows but have since discovered the salted emerald shiners sold by bestbait.com are tough to beat when fishing Canadian waters elsewhere.
 
ChrisW
 
03/20/2020 09:38PM
Are you in mostly catching lakers with salted minnows or are they a multipurpose bait? Thanks!
 
schucanoe
member (30)member
 
03/21/2020 01:10PM
They work well when fishing for most species but we use them primarily for tipping jigs when walleye fishing. They are like candy for them.
 
Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/21/2020 04:13PM
ChrisW: "Are you in mostly catching lakers with salted minnows or are they a multipurpose bait? Thanks!"

I have caught lakers, brookies, walleye, pike and perch on them. I do know for sure that lakers and brookies really go crazy for them, as that’s where I use them the most. I haven’t used them on bass, because I never use bait for bass, usually fly fish for them. The one thing I would stress is that not all salted Minnows are created equally. The ones I salt myself are far superior to store bought. I know some bait shops skim off dead ones and freeze those for sale as a chumming bait ice fishing etc. those ones you never know if they were old dead fungus covered etc. plus from experience I know the ones I salt to just the right dryness (enough but not too much/crispy dry etc) work the best. I think for guys planning on taking in live Minnows, maybe do that as planned, as we all know that live minnows will work great, but maybe take in a few salted ones as well, even just a dozen etc., then compare your results.

Moonman.
 
ChrisW
 
03/21/2020 09:50PM
Thanks for the reply. Wish I had the space to salt my own, but I am apartment with my wife so I will probably be buying some from bestbait.com as recommended earlier.
Going in June 11 with some fishing amateurs on the Gunflint coming off a couple bad years of fishing so I want to show up with a few arrows on my quiver. Any recommendations for Alder, Caribou, or other easily daytrippable lakes would be greatly appreciated. Targeting trout and walleye but not turning my nose up at northern or bass. Just want to show the group how much fun fishing can be.
 
schucanoe
member (30)member
 
03/24/2020 11:56AM
FYI, if purchasing salted shiners from bestbait for walleye fishing go with the large size. As Moonman mentioned salted minnows often differ in how dry they are. The ones from bestbait are on the dry end of the scale but that often works well on a week long trip without refrigeration as they don't become too soft and mushy. I would suggest you stay away from Magic Products preserved minnows which are commonly sold in bait shops as they are preserved with a bit of formalin which in my experiences walleyes do not like nearly as well. Not sure if you have used salted minnows before on a jig but I would recommend hooking them through the mouth and out the gill, slide the minnow up the hook toward the jig head and then hook again through the body to keep them in place. This will help you catch those short biters.
 
illini79ps
member (35)member
 
03/25/2020 02:13PM
How about another angle regarding this question: if you can handle camping, canoeing, and portaging, you can successfully fish anywhere in the BWCA without any live bait. Buy some colorful jig heads, twistertails and swimbaits. Add 2 packs of gulp minnows per person (4 inch). Throw in a dozen or two senkos for wacky rigging. Couple cranks each in natural, firetiger, and bright blue/silver. Leeches for later in the spring can be fun if you want to slip bobber and veg-out between strikes, but minnows and lives worms are totally unnecessary.
 
schwartyman
member (38)member
 
03/25/2020 02:29PM
illini79ps: " minnows and lives worms are totally unnecessary. "

I agree with you entirely, and enjoy looking at the post from the angle you suggested. I suppose my question was more aimed towards worth it/not worth it; rather than necessary/unnecessary.

I didn't include this in the OP, but this trip I will be bringing in my younger sister, and old friend who have fished only a handful of times, dare I say incompetent fisher-people. They're very interested in getting on some fish. As an experienced fisherman both out of and in the BWCA I find joy in leading these people towards fish. I personally feel tossing a minnow under a bobber may be the most simple and effective route for my beginner group mates, and switching to double portaging to make that happen is worth it to us.

I do want to include a baggie of salted minnows to try vertical jigging after reading comments here. Excited to see how it works side by side a live minnow.
 
Moonman
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03/25/2020 02:41PM
illini79ps: "How about another angle regarding this question: if you can handle camping, canoeing, and portaging, you can successfully fish anywhere in the BWCA without any live bait. Buy some colorful jig heads, twistertails and swimbaits. Add 2 packs of gulp minnows per person (4 inch). Throw in a dozen or two senkos for wacky rigging. Couple cranks each in natural, firetiger, and bright blue/silver. Leeches for later in the spring can be fun if you want to slip bobber and veg-out between strikes, but minnows and lives worms are totally unnecessary. "

I have to say I agree with this in general but doesn’t always apply. For example some trips I won’t bring any spinning gear at all live/salted bait etc just fly gear, knowing I could do great, or perhaps deal with howling winds and perhaps face a skunk, depends on my mood and how I want to have fun that year. Same as only targeting walleyes etc (harder) than say smallies. So for Minnows, it’s not as much as a needed requirement as much as a preference that particular year, and to maximize fishing from your campsite while perhaps shorebound due to weather etc. As far as live bait for me at least in terms of easiest to bring to hardest, it would be salted Minnows, worms, leeches, then live Minnows. But really if you want to bring live Minnows why not? It’s the same as bringing 4-5 rods as opposed to one rod. Each of us makes our own decisions, even changing those choices from year to year, or over the season.

Moonman.
 
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