How to freeze lake shiners How to freeze lake shiners How to freeze lake shiners How to freeze lake shiners
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  1. #1

    Default How to freeze lake shiners

    Guys, a little tip I would like to share with all the perch fishermen. For years I have caught my own emerald shiners, mostly in the fall when they come in close to break walls and other structures along the lake. You are allowed to have 500 minnows without a bait dealer license(around $34 in Ohio) I always bought a dealer license to be legal in Ohio!
    After catching the shiners I blot as much as possible the water off of them, then pack them in yellow corn meal(not corn meal mix or white corn meal) it must be yellow corn meal. Don't ask me why it has to be yellow, I have tried the others and it doesn't seem to work. I have found that shiners frozen this way work as well or in my experience better than live emeralds! My belief is the corn meal preserves the shine on the minnows.
    I always do them as quickly as I can before they die, mine are all flopping around as I dust them with corn meal, pack them in 1 quart size heavy duty freezer bags, 3 or 4 scoops at a time, more if you want. I haven't tried it but using a food save bag would probably well too as long as you blot the water off of them. You can do this with your unused bait as well as long as they are not dead, no sense wasting $3.50 a pound emerald shiners.
    Sorry bait dealers but maybe you could start using this method of freezing your minnows for the seasons when emeralds are hard to find! Try it guys you will be amazed.

  2. #2


    First of all, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with this forum. It's people like you and the other generous folks on here who help make this newly found hobby for me that much more enjoyable as I try to figure out some of the basics that you all have mastered. Many times I was ready to simply give up the entire hobby and then I read some brilliant post on here about technique, location, etc. and I'm reinvigorated. Much obliged.

    I have been trying to understand what makes emerald green shiners irresistible to these finicky perch in the western basin. In my limited experience, emeralds catch them exponentially more frequently than goldies or fatheads (or worms or any number of the things I've tried to get them to bite). Clearly they have a preference. So, here are my questions on this topic:

    1. Live/dead minnows - you mentioned not freezing dead shiners. Is that because the coloring/reflectiveness of the skin/scales diminishes when the minnow dies or another reason freezing dead ones isn't good?

    2. When you thaw frozen minnows for use, do they stay whole or are you cutting them up into chunks to bait your hook? For some reason I am picturing a chunk of head cheese like you see in the deli case and you would only be able to get chunks of mushy minnow parts.

    3. Is it the specific coloring of emeralds that make them so appealing to these perch, or is it something else?

    4. Back to the live/dead minnow topic, surely we catch fish on dead minnows. They only seem to stay alive for a minute or so after being put on our hooks and dropped 20-50' in the lake, and we get bites well after that minnow has expired. I am reasoning that live minnows still have all of their natural coloring and even movement, albeit that of snack that is impaled with a shiny hook. Or is the attraction because of other factors such as blood in the water? I understand that perch use their senses other than sight, for the most part, to find food. This would tend to make us think that the color/shimmer of the minnow isn't as important but we know that it certainly does. Any insight here?

  3. #3


    Hi Chix, There is something about freezing them as soon as possible after netting them and packing them in the yellow corn meal. I have frozen minnows in my freezer that have been there for 3 years , just used some of them yesterday by the green can just west of the Catawba state park boat ramp. We caught our limit of nice sized perch, I have to say freezing them this way does something to them that makes them even more appealing to the perch than live ones, maybe the corn meal smells good to the perch but it really works. I really believe that all fish use all of their senses to find their food.
    We can go down into really turbid water and with our puny human eyesight and we can't see objects less than a foot away. I have been fishing most of my 74 years for several species of fish, I love Bass, walleye, sauger, perch or crappies. I have fished for striped bass and their hybrids, bluegills, sunfish and several species of salt water fish. Color, noise, motion, smell all affect how a fish reacts to what ever we are using to catch them with but I believe smell is the most potent for fish. I am a believer in the power of a fishes sense of smell so much so that I use a scent mask like bait mate to mask the smell of my human scent. The oils in your skin contain pheromones and things that fish can pick up very well. I spray my lures with bait mate and rub some of it on my hands; I am sure it provides a little edge that will make me more successful at catching fish.
    Back to the recipe for freezing the emeralds in yellow corn meal. You can freeze your unused live bait this way or go to the jetties and even some streams like old woman's creek where emeralds come into in the fall probably to spawn and or to find warmer water. I use an umbrella net to catch mine in the old ore docks around black river in Lorain. There are times that there are so many minnows that you can't fail to net tons of them, then freeze them in yellow corn meal after blotting as much water off of them as you can. I use zip lock heavy duty freezer bags, the ones that have a little plastic zipper on them, and you have to use yellow corn meal (Aunt Jemima is the one I use)! I can not take credit for the yellow corn meal recipe, my brother Roger and I picked this up from an old salt that we used to go perching with. He has hardly ever bought live emeralds, even if he did he would freeze his unused live ones for the next fishing trip.
    One suggestion I have is if you are going to catch a large number of bait fish for freezing buy a live bait certificate for about $40 so you don't have any issue with possession limits, Ohio limits our possession to no more that 500 minnows without that certificate. Lastly I know perch can be really light biters but most of my fish yesterday hit very hard so there was no problem knowing there was a fish on the line. I won't be buying minnows at the current high prices as long as I am able to catch my own and pack them away for the perch bite. Yellow perch love them when cared for this way, they last in the freezer for years. I refroze our unused bait after we got home to use for another trip. Best of luck to you in your fishing, tight lines my friend!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Blog Entries


    About 25 years ago an elderly bait store worker told us he freezes leftover live shiners, quickly drained, packed with salt and then put in baggies. They sort of "mummify" and when thawed they are almost like leather. They stay on the hook quite well, lasting 3 or 4 catches. They keep well for the next season too. One thing, don't thaw and then try to refreeze them.

  5. #5


    Northcoastbob how far did you go out from catawba? I was planning to come up Saturday morning to perch fish. Was gonna be up there and out on the lake around 10. Are they still getting them around g can?

  6. #6


    You will see a boat pack there usually. I fished by a green buoy almost straight out from Catawba State park boat launch. There have been boat packs out there for more than three or four weeks. It is not much more than a mile west of the launch. Been fishing there for over three weeks, bite has been on and off but did well when they bite.

  7. #7


    Yeah I have used those but never had any success with them, the idea there is the same as salt impregnated worms and grubs. With the ones I do they hit those even better than live emeralds. I have refroze these and they still still work real good. I started freezing them for use when the emeralds are not available but I haven't bought any since I started using these 3 years ago. I put them on the hook still frozen and they still hit them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2018


    put minnows in plastic bad. add enough cheap vodka to cover minnows. let sit for a few hrs to absorb. drain and freeze. when thawed they stay rubbery and dont get mushy

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