The emerald shiner minnows which we harvest from the waters of Lake Erie are delicate. The time of year is one of the biggest factors in the durability and toughness of the shiners.
The summer months are among the most difficult to keep the shiners living well as well as post spawn conditions.
Here are 3 golden rules for ensuring your emerald shiner minnows live longer. Whether you are fishing the shores of Lake Erie for perch or bass, these tips and tricks will help you catch more fish because your minnows will live longer.
Number 1 - Do not shock the minnows with a jump or decline in water temperature. It is best to use the water from your bait dealer. The minnows are already used to that water and temperature of the water. If your bait dealers water temperature is sitting at 65 degrees and you then switch out the minnows to lake water which is sitting at 72 degrees, chances are the minnows are already hurting. Instead gradually bring your water temperature up or down if you plan on adding fresh water.
Number 2 - Use a bigger bait bucket or cooler. Minnows need space, the more space they have, the longer they will live. We have seen all kinds of containers used for emerald shiners but by far the most effective are bait coolers that have space, can keep the water cool, and well aerated. Minnows jammed into small buckets do not stand a chance.
Number 3 - Choose a reputable bait dealer. The handling of the minnows coming out of the lake is extremely important and there are key actions your bait dealer takes to be gentle and ensure the bait makes it to your bucket in great shape and ready to catch fish.
Remember to utilize these three tips next time you fish the shores of Lake Erie, including Port Rowan, Long Point, Turkey Point, Port Dover, Port Burwell, or anywhere really.