How Does a Lobster Trap Work?

by Richard Corrigan
Funnel-shaped openings make it easy for lobsters to get in, but difficult to escape.

Funnel-shaped openings make it easy for lobsters to get in, but difficult to escape.

It takes a lot of work to get a lobster from the ocean floor to your kitchen table, but the traps used to get them there have changed very little since the 19th century. Although the handcrafted lobster pots made of wood and knotted twine largely have been replaced with modern metal cages, today's lobster traps work under much the same principles as their predecessors.

Trap Construction

Most lobster traps have two inner compartments, known as the kitchen and the parlor. These compartments are connected by doors. Lobsters enter the trap through an entrance door that leads to the kitchen, where the bait is located. Once a lobster grabs a piece of bait with its claw, it exits the kitchen through a second door, which leads to the parlor, where the lobster becomes trapped. Both doors are funnel-shaped, making them easy to enter but difficult to exit. This is what keeps lobsters from leaving the trap.

Setting the Trap

A fisherman baits a lobster trap by placing a piece of fresh or salted fish in the kitchen. The bait is tied to a line or placed inside a hanging bag. The traps are taken out to sea by boat and then lowered to the ocean floor on a rope with a floating marker buoy at the other end. The buoy makes it easier to find the trap later. Modern lobster traps have a small vent or opening in the parlor that allows undersized lobsters to escape, while larger ones remain trapped.

About the Author

Richard Corrigan has been a full-time professional writer since 2010. His areas of expertise include travel, sports and recreation, gardening, landscaping and the outdoors. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY Geneseo in 2009.

Photo Credits

  • Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images