3 Basic Types of Fish Traps, and How To Build Fish Traps for Wilderness Survival

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Tidal Flat Fish Trap

Tidal Flat Fish Trap

Types of Fish Traps

I bring basic gear with me when I go hiking.  Some of the survival gear that I have, allows me to actively fish.  If I am going camping in an area with water, but I can almost drive to the location, I will also bring some basic traps to sit in the car… just in case.

I prefer not to use the fishing line and hooks that I bring as my sole source of food.  This is a very bad idea.

Think about this in business terms.  In business, it is smart to create a structure that makes money for you “while you sleep”.  This means it will function and bring in income without your direct hourly input, not that you don’t have to put work into it in the beginning.

In survival, you have to think about this as well.  Do you want to trade your hours of productive time for food, or do you want to set up multiple systems that allow the food to come to you, while you are doing something else.  This something else could be doing another type of food procurement, building a shelter, or making a fire.

Let’s do this in our fishing.  We can build passive fish traps to work for us.

I am teaching you how to build three basic fish traps, both fresh and saltwater.  Here are the three basic traps that I like to consider when in wilderness.


Basket Fish Trap


Types of Fish Traps

So this is the closest I will ever come to underwater basket weaving.  There are many ways to build this trap, but I have a particular way that I like to put them together.

First, you will need lots of green supple twigs or sapplings that can bend.  Depending on the size of the trap, you should lash the main cage together about a foot apart down the length of the trap.  You want to bring the narrow end of the basket as close together as possible to keep from having to make a ter to cover it.  On the wide end, the entrance, you will ensure that your lashing is at least 3-6 inches away from the opening.

Now build a cone out of twigs that will be slightly wider at the base than the main trap.  It needs to be narrow enough at the tip to let fish in, but not back out.

Bait the trap, place the cone on top of the opening with the tip pointing inward the main trap, and lash the two main pieces together.  Consider how you will mark this trap to visit it later.

Shore Fish Trap, Pool Fish Trap, Current Fish Trap


Shore fish trap

Shore Fish Trap

One of the easier traps to build in the shore trap is the shore trap.  All you essentially have to do is find a spot along the shoreline that you can build it in relatively shallow water.  It is best to do this trap where there is moving water, either by river current or by tidal current.

fish trapfish trap

To build this, you first will grab a bunch of sticks and build three sides of a box, with the opening facing the inflow of current.  The length of the sticks should be such that they stick well above the water.  Once you have the box built and the sticks are close enough together to keep fish from escaping, you need to funnel the fish or sealife into the trap.  So you will build a wide V shape funnel from more sticks in a close proximity, just like the sticks that make up the box.  You want the V to be MUCH wider than the box so you can funnel and trap more food.  The point of the V needs to be open and should be opening into the

This will allow fish to enter the trap, but not leave it.  You can bait it as well if in a river.

Tidal Flat Fish Trap

tidal flat fish trap

Tidal Flat Fish Trap

You first want to find great location for capturing sea life on shore.  You want to choose your trap location based on the high tide, but build the trap at low tide for ease and for best chance of capture.  Choose natural pools of the water, which means rock pools in rocky shores, pools that generally occur on the surface of a reef, or sandbars and their ditches on sandy shores.  This will ensure that you have the best chance of accumulating food and that you will use the natural flow and pooling in the area.

Build the trap with stones.  Create a low wall that looks a little like a crescent moon with the tips of the moon pointing away from the main body of water.  This will be an extremely long trap to cover much ground.  The wall should extend outward INTO the water.

As tide rolls in, it will bring fish that approach the shoreline and are swimming parallel to it.  As the water recedes, the fish will get trapped by the stone wall.  Generally no bait is required here.

If you are in freshwater, or saltwater; ponds, rivers, bays, or oceans; there is a trap that is suitable to your needs.  Traps are extremely beneficial since you can free up your time for building more traps, a shelter, a fire, or hunting other game.  Always find ways to automate the accumulation of food to raise your chances of survival.


I bring basic gear with me when I go hiking. Some of the survival gear that I have, allows me to actively fish. If I am going camping in an area with water, but I can almost drive to the location, I will also bring some basic traps to sit in the car… just in case.

I prefer not to use the fishing line and hooks that I bring as my sole source of food. This is a very bad idea.Types of Fish Traps

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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