How To Make a Survival Fish Trap

A fish trap can be a valuable tool for anyone who wants to learn how to survive in the wild. With a little bit of know-how, you can quickly build a trap that will help you catch fish for food or bait.

What are fish traps?

Fish traps have been used by humans for centuries. Some of the earliest fish traps were made from woven reeds and sticks. These traps were effective in shallow water, but they were not very sturdy and could not be used in deep water.

The first step is to find a suitable location for your trap. Look for a spot where fish are known to congregate, such as near a drop-off or in a pool beneath a waterfall. Once you’ve found a good place, it’s time to start planning and building your trap.

There are a few different ways to build a fish trap, but today we’ll focus on my favorite survival style done with weaving that you can actually see reasonably often on several survival TV shows like Naked & Afraid XL.

How To Start a Survival Fish Trap

Once you’ve observed the area you would like to drop the fish trap, you must decide on the size. You don’t want to waste valuable natural resources or materials while you build a trap that will not work in the chosen water source. Usually, two-three feet in length can be an excellent place to start.

Next, you’ll want to gather materials. You’ll start by gathering one set of branches that should be as thick as your pointing “index” finger or thumb. The second set of branches must be thinner than your pinky finger and be able to bend significantly. You will also want to make sure you have cordage.

Survival Pro-tip: Cordage is a general term used to describe any type of rope, string, or twine that can be used for construction or crafting. It can be made from natural materials such as plant fibers, animal sinew, or rawhide, or it can be made from synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester.

Gathering Materials for Survival Fish Traps

Safety first! You’ll want to keep an eye out for any sharp edges that might cut you while you’re working. This gets overlooked too much. Once you have a good pile of branches, it’s time to start building the frame of the trap.

If you’re not sure what to start with, these are some of the more common materials that could help you get started:

  • bent branches of any length
  • green leaves/stems
  • vines and other flexible greens (grass, moss)

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? So, you start with the thicker branch group as they will form the ribs of your trap. To connect all of the sticks together, you’ll need some sort of rope or cordage.

The skeleton in a trap is usually made out of larger pieces (also known as warps). The smaller, bendy rods are the wefts, the piece that we weave through the bigger ones to construct the trap’s frame. Let’s do it below!

Building a Survival Fish Trap

The first step is to secure the narrow ends of the vertical pieces (warp) with any piece of wood that can protect one end. It’s critical to choose an odd number. I like to use eleven because it’s an uneven number. Using an even number like eight could likely mess it up.

It’s time to start weaving in the weavers (also known as wefts) once the verticals (warping yarns) are tied securely to the cap. With an easy under, over, under, over pattern as you go around the warps.

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To finish a weaver, just bend the end and tuck it into the previous weaves. When you finish one weaver, put the next one in place right where the last one ended. Many people like to start with the smaller end and work from there.

The trap’s base is woven a few times before you make a ring and tie it halfway up the verticals. This opens up the trap and gives it the correct form.

Once the frame is the right size, bend the warps over and push them into the weavers. This will make the frame stronger.

The next step is to begin the smaller cone after the primary cone has been completed. The tiny cone is placed inside the primary one. And you can probably start guessing how it works: a chokepoint is created that makes it hard for the fish to getaway.

Making the inner core of a survival fish trap

To make the smaller cone, start by bending two branches into rings or circles. Make sure that the larger one is about the same size as the primary cone and that the smaller circle is about three inches in diameter.

The bigger circle is formed from a vine maple twig that has been twisted on itself. This is simple to execute and does not require any rope. The tiny circle is constructed of another piece of vine maple, which is bound with willow bark.

To get the weaving form correctly, make sure to have an odd number of the vertical group, as we talked about earlier.

For weavers (wefts) for this smaller cone, you can use many of the same species like vine maple, Indian plum, willow, etc., and close relatives. You can also use roots for the wefts.

Once the smaller cone is completed, you can place it inside the larger mouth of the primary cone, and you’re good to go.

How to Use a Primitive Fish Trap

If you want to use it without bait, you can put the trap in a creek or stream. I recommend putting the trap in an area where the water is moving fast enough to push fish into your trap but not giving them enough time to escape. You can also walk downstream and make a lot of noise and disturb the water as you go. This could make the fish flee towards your trap.

With bait, you can also put the fish trap in a still body of water like a pond or lake. When the trap is in the water, and you see a fish swimming around inside of it, quickly pull it out of the water. If you wait too long, the fish will find a way to escape.

And that’s how you make and use a survival fish trap.

Are survival fish traps legal?

It’s important to note that primitive traps are not legal in all areas. In a lot of jurisdictions, primitive trapping is permitted only in real survival situations, but why even get yourself in that sort of trouble?

It’s always a good idea to double-check the restrictions in your region. These regulations can be helpful to monitor the local ecosystem by targeting invasive species and protecting indigenous fish.

Well, there you have it! Survival fish traps, like the one described in this article, can be a great way to catch dinner without needing any special supplies or equipment. All you need is some natural materials that can be found in your local area. Make sure you check the regulations!

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