How to Trap Fish

Making Fish traps

In surf, shallow areas, and small streams it is possible to trap fish.  Before you decide to set up a fish trap, understand that it requires effort.  Are the calories you expend making the trap worth the calories you gain from the fish?  If you are going to be in an area several days, a fish trap is probably a good idea.  Remember that a fish trap will be visible to others.  Fish traps are currently against the law and should only be used in a life or death situation.

A fish trap consists of a series of sticks or rocks laid in a pattern that traps the fish.  You build a corral with a funnel leading into it.  When you have fish trapped, block the entrance and either club the fish, or catch them with your hands.  If you get a large amount of fish in the trap, you can leave them caged up until you are ready to eat them. This is a good way of preserving the fish

Remember that in large streams and lakes, fish migrate into the shallows along the banks in the early morning and evening to feed.

The trap can be build to block a small stream completely.  The tidal fish trap is the best choice for these conditions.  Wade in upstream and herd the fish downstream into the trap.

In the ocean schools of fish approach the shore at high tide and travel along the shore.  Set your traps when the tide is out.  The v-type trap works well under these conditions.  Set your trap so that the wide opening of the v faces shore.  It will trap fish as the tide goes out.

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Use natural rock pools, sand banks or other natural features whenever possible.  There are all kinds of things you can use to make a fish trap.  Netting made from old clothes or sacking will work.  The water needs to be able to flow through the material and the holes need to be small enough to trap the fish.

It has been a long time since I have had a chance to make a fish trap.  I wanted to make one and photograph it for this article, but unfortunately it is against the law around here and I don’t need that kind of trouble.  See the following diagram for an example of a fish trap.



Simple tidal trap made from sticks.  When build in a stream, the v should face upstream.  The fish swim in have trouble finding their way out.  To keep fish alive in it merely block the entrance.

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2 thoughts on “How to Trap Fish”

  1. We make them out of hardware cloth, cylinders with a inverted cone in one or both ends. Size and bait type depend on the intended catch. Little ones can catch bait for the bigger ones. Don’t kill the fish so its possible to let ones go that are not tasty or just too many to clean and eat at once. The whole thing hides under the water so its not as likely to get ripped off. Guess if I were dropped off without anything the stick fish corral is the way to go.
    Thanks for the time you all put in here.

  2. Matt in Oklahoma

    I use perch traps like what Lurker discusses all the time. I also catch small snakes that try and get in to get the fish too. Those in turn are used for bait.
    The stick trap is hard and not very productive in my experence but it is worth trying. Some areas are better suited for it than others and like anything there is a learning curve.
    The rock method is something I kinda use now at dams. When the water rapidly receeds from below the dam I go in and bow fish it and take the fish that dont escape and end up in the shallow pools.

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