How to make a simple fish trap

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This survival fish trap is a very old method for catching fish. Primitive traps like this can work all day và night for you while you conserve energy and manage other tasks in a survival situation.

The method that I will be presenting in this article is a tried và true design. It is basically a small cone within a large cone. The practice is a simple one, & often when we keep things simple they tend to lớn work well. 

In this article we will look at the different steps khổng lồ make this survival fish trap, then the how-to of actively using the trap khổng lồ collect fish.

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How lớn Build the Survival Fish Trap:

The first step is to collect the materials to lớn make the trap. The main pieces of this survival fish trap consist of branches of two different diameters. One group is about as thick as your index finger or thumb. The other group of branches needs lớn be a thinner diameter, smaller than your pinky finger, và very flexible.

You will also need some khung of cordage to bind all of the sticks together. The larger sticks will be the skeleton of the trap (also called warps). The thinner more flexible sticks will be what we weave though the larger sticks khổng lồ create the structure of the trap (also called wefts).


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harvested branches for the warps and wefts

I used a bunch of different plant species for this trap.  The species that I am using are beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), vine maple (Acer circinatum), Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis), willow (Salix spp.), & red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea).


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willow bark cordage

The cordage that I am using is bark from a willow. I cut a branch of willow & slowly peeled the bark off.


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branches with leaves removed

After all the parts are collected the first step is khổng lồ bind the thin ends of the vertical pieces (aka warps) lớn a chunk of wood that acts lượt thích a cap. It is important to lớn use an uneven number. Here I am using nine. An even number will result in an improper weave.


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binding branches at one kết thúc with a chunk of wood và cordage

Once the verticals (warps) are bound securely to lớn the cap then it is time lớn start weaving in the weavers (aka wefts). The weaving pattern is very simple: under, over, under, over, etc as you weave your way around the warps.


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beginning to weave

The ends of the weavers can just be bent & tucked into the previous weaves. When one weaver ends, just place the next weaver right where the last one ended và continue. I like to start with the skinny kết thúc of the weavers.


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weaving pattern

After the base of the trap has been woven a number of times, I then create a ring and secure it half way up the verticals. This is done to mở cửa the trap up a bit, & to give it the right shape.


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creating a ring
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adding the ring

Keep on weaving!


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continuing the weaving

Pick a desired total length. In this case I chose about two & a half feet.


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this section is about two and half feet long now

Once the total length is achieved bend the frame pieces (warps) over & jam them down into the weavers. This will địa chỉ cửa hàng some structural stability.

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bending the warps down into the weavers

After the first cone is complete it is time to start on the smaller cone. This smaller cone sits inside the larger cone. This creates a choke point và makes it very difficult for the fish to find their way out.


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diagram of the two cones

The first step to making the smaller cone is to size two circles out of flexible branches. Theses circles need khổng lồ be sized correctly. The larger of the two needs to lớn fit just inside the big cone. & the smaller circle is approximately three inches in diameter.


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two circles for the second cone

The two circles pictured above are made in two different ways. The larger circle is a piece of vine maple twisted around on itself. This is very easy to accomplish & no cordage is needed. The small circle is another piece of vine maple và it is bound together with some willow bark.


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smaller circle bound with bark cordage

Once the circles are complete it is time lớn attach the verticals. I fixed them to the larger circle first with willow bark & raffia fibers.


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starting to add verticals (warps)

Remember lớn make the number of verticals an odd number (if you don’t then the weave won’t come out right).


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verticals completed on smaller cone

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splitting cedar roots
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weaving the smaller cone
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completed cones
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fitting the small cone into the large cone

This trap can also be used un-baited. The un-baited cài đặt is a little more time consuming but it works in creeks and rivers.

The idea is to lớn block a section of the creek và leave a small opening where the trap is placed. The hope is that fish moving down stream will be funneled into the trap.

To improve your chances, you can go up-steam along the ngân hàng and then get into the creek và walk down the creek making a bunch of disturbance in the water as you go. Oftentimes this pushes fish into the trap.


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un-baited fish trap placed in a creek

I placed this survival fish trap in a creek for a day và night, and tried khổng lồ push some fish downstream. I didn’t catch any fish though I did catch a couple of crayfish!


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crayfish caught in the trap

The weaving techniques used to lớn make this survival fish trap can be an easy way to lớn make a container that can catch your lunch. The techniques are also a good way to lớn make a basket or even to lớn make a fence. 

Another consideration is the legal aspect of primitive traps. In many places primitive trapping is only legal in real survival situations. It’s always a good idea to check the regulations in your area. There’s often less regulation for catching invasive fish species or fish stocked into ponds on private property.

Happy fishing!

By the way, if you enjoyed this article then you"ll love our survival mini guide. You"ll discover six key strategies khổng lồ staying alive in the outdoors plus often-overlooked survival tips. We"re currently giving away không lấy phí copies here.

Interested in learning more survival skills like the fish trap? kiểm tra out our Wilderness Survival Courses.

Learn about the history of survival fish traps on Wikipedia.


About the Author: Russell Field is a well-rounded naturalist with a passion for bushcraft & flintknapping. He was an instructor at Alderleaf. Learn more about Russell Field.

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