Fish traps come in a wide array of sizes, styles and designs. There are traps for minnows and bait fish, and traps for non-sport fish such as catfish and carp. The designs all use a funnel passage leading in to a holding chamber. The funnel has a wide opening that tapers to a smaller exit, allowing fish to swim in, but preventing them from swimming out. Probably the most popular and effective fish trap is a cylindrical model made of wire mesh.
Cut a 5-foot length of wire mesh with the tin snips. Fold the cut ends together and overlap them by 4 inches. Cut six 5-inch pieces of 18-gauge wire with the wire cutters. Tie the cut ends of the mesh together with the wire. Your wire-mesh cylinder should measure approximately 2 feet by 3 feet.
Measure the diameter of one end of the cylinder. Cut a circle from the unused wire mesh that is 2 inches wider than the diameter measurement. Center the wire circle on one end of the cylinder. Bend and loop the extra 2-inch length through the holes in the wire mesh using needle-nose pliers. Cut six 3-inch pieces of 18-gauge wire and permanently attach the circle to the mesh.
Cut nine pieces of 18-gauge wire 3 inches long. Bend 3 feet of wire mesh into a funnel shape. The diameter of the large end of the funnel should be the same diameter as the cylinder. The diameter of the small end should be approximately 4 inches. Overlap the cut ends of the wire-mesh funnel until it measures 1 foot from end to end. Tie the ends together with three pieces of 18-gauge wire. Insert the funnel into the cylinder small end first. Tie the large end to the edges of the cylinder with six pieces of 18-gauge wire.
Cut a 3-inch piece of 18-gauge wire. Measure a 10-inch square on the side of the cylinder and cut it on three sides. This is the door from which fish can be removed from the trap. Fill a sock or mesh bag with bait--dry dogfood is a common choice--and place it inside the cylinder. Tie the door shut with the 3-inch wire.
Run a piece of rope through the wire mesh near the middle of the cylinder. Tie the rope into a slip knot and pull it tight. Lower the trap into the water until it reaches the bottom of the lake or river. Tie the remaining end of the rope to a dock or tree. The trap should be checked for fish at least once every 24 hours.
Items you will need
- 10 feet of wire mesh with holes smaller than 1 inch
- 18-gauge wire
- Tin snips or wire cutters
- Needle-nose pliers
- Small mesh bag or sock
- Tape measure
- Do not allow sharp pieces of wire to point into the funnel's interior as they could prevent a fish from swimming into the holding area. Bend any sharp edges outward with needle-nose pliers.
- Laws regarding the use of fishing traps vary widely from state to state. In some locales they are not permitted and in some a permit is required. Check all applicable fish and game laws before building or using this trap.
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