Fishing in a river is fun, easy, and in most cases highly fruitful because of the many edible fish species that live and spawn in rivers and streams. That’s why we’ve put together this terrific guide on how to make a fish trap out of chicken wire.
In the United States, particularly, you are highly likely to catch some of the biggest river fish species in the world if you employ the right tactics. The commonest among the available species include freshwater catfish, monster large mouth bass, pan fish, cutthroat trout, and sucker fish.
In this article, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how you can make strong and durable fish traps using chicken wire as well as how you can use the traps effectively.
How to Make a Fish Trap Out Of Chicken Wire.
Before you start making your fish trap, first establish the type/size of the fish that you want to catch and the depth of the river in which you will set the trap. That will help you to know the size of the trap to make as well as the diameter of the hexagonal gaps in the chicken wire that you will use.
There are two types of fish traps that you can make out of chicken wire:
i. A Cylindrical Fish Trap: You will find this trap relatively easier to make because it requires fewer tools, very few apparatus, and it takes lesser time to build compared to a cubical trap. However, this trap isn’t the best choice for you if you intend to use it in a river with a high rate of flow because it might be fouled before making any meaningful catch.
ii. A Rectangular Trap: This trap requires more time and more tools to build. The chicken wire is reinforced with a wooden rectangular frame to make it sturdy and more durable. This is your best bet in a fast-flowing river.
Note: In both cases, the diameter of the hexagonal gaps in your chicken wire will depend on the size of fish that you want to catch. The diameters range between 0.5 to 1 inches.
1. How to Build a Cylindrical Fish Trap Out Of Chicken Wire:
Which apparatus will you need?
•Any wire cutter e.g. a pair of pliers.
•One roll of 18-20 gauge chicken wire. It should be at least 12ft. long and 5ft. wide.
•One roll of 18-gauge stainless steel tying wire. One roll is usually between 100 and 110 feet but all you will require for this project is about 40 feet. If you already have a roll at home, you don’t have to buy a new one.
Proceed as follows:
•From your 12-foot long chicken wire, use a pair of pliers to cut out a 2ft. by 5ft. strip. Keep the strip aside; we will use it later.
•You will be left with a 10ft. by 5ft. wire. Cut it into two 5.ft. by 5ft. squares. Keep one piece aside and proceed to the next step with the other.
•Roll the square to form a cylinder. The two opposite sides that you choose to bring together so as to form the cylinder should overlap over each other by about 3-4 inches.
•Using the pliers, cut about 8ft. of the stainless steel tying wire.
•Weave the overlaps on your cylinder together using the tying wire. If your hands aren’t strong enough for the job, the pliers will always come in handy. You have to weave your trap extremely well, with several loops and knots, to make it firm and indestructible by strong tides.
•You should now have a 5ft. tall open-ended cylinder with a diameter of about 1.5ft. Keep it aside and pick the 5ft. square piece that you had kept aside at the second step.
•Cut it into two equal pieces. You will have two rectangles measuring 5ft. long by 2.5ft. wide each.
•With each of the two pieces, make two hollow cones (the shape of a funnel). The big diameter in each of them should be the same as that of your cylinder (about 1.5ft.) while the small diameters will depend on the size of your target fish (At least make it big enough for a ten-pound catfish to pass through). Both funnels should have a height of 2.0ft each so you will have to trim them to size.
•Cut about 8ft. of the tying wire and then cut it into two 4.ft. pieces. Use the pieces to weave the overlapping sides on each of your funnels together.
•Fit one of your funnels into one of your cylinder’s open ends in such a way that its narrow end points inwards while the wide end sits on the circumference of the cylinder’s open top.
•Cut about 12ft. of the tying wire and then cut it into two 6ft. pieces. Weave the funnel and the cylinder together around the cylinder’s mouth using one of your 6ft. tying wire pieces.
•Trim off any protruding wires so that both the funnel and the cylinder can share the same mouth.
•Fit the second funnel into the cylinder’s remaining open end and do to it as you did to the first one.
•What you have now is a cylinder with two funnels attached on its ends. If you have followed the procedure well, there should be a 1ft. gap between the two funnels.
•Cut out a 1ft. square opening on the cylinder’s curved surface, adjacent to the gap described above.
• Do you still have the 2ft. by 5ft. chicken wire strip that we kept aside at the first step? It’s now time to use it. From it, cut a 3ft. by 1.5ft. rectangle. Fold that rectangle in half to form a 1.5ft. by 1.5ft. square. This will serve as the door to the opening you made above so it must be strong. •Cut about 7ft. of the tying wire and use it to attach the door to the opening.
•You still have an unused 2ft. by 2ft. chicken wire. Use it to make a bait tube of about 3 inches in diameter and about 1ft. long. Attach it to the inside wall of your cylinder, somewhere between the two funnels so that you can easily access it through the door. All that done, your trap is ready for use. Note: The trap door is there to help you access your trap in order to either place a bait or remove a catch.
2. How to Build a Rectangular Fish Trap Out Of Chicken Wire.
You will need the following:
•A piece of wood with a square cross-section (2 by 2 inches) and about 15 meters in length.
•About 20 iron nails, each 2 inches long.
•A nail hammer.
•A miter saw.
•Any wire cutter e.g. a pair of pliers.
•One roll of 18-20 gauge chicken wire. It should be at least 20ft. long and 7ft. wide.
•One roll of 18-gauge stainless steel tying wire. Before getting down to the procedure, you will first need to decide the size of the trap that you want to make. Important: whichever size you choose, ensure that the width is twice the height and the length is quadruple the height. In other words, the ratio of height : width : length should be 1 : 2 : 4. In our case, we are going to make a 1.5ft. tall, 3ft. wide, and 6ft. long trap. Now proceed as follows (Remember to change your measurements where necessary.):
•Cut your wood into four 1.5ft., four 3ft., and four 6ft. pieces.
•Using the miter saw, miter all the pieces corners at an angle of 45 degrees to form a trapezoidal cross-section in each.
•Arrange two 1.5ft. and two 3ft. lumber pieces in such a way that they form a rectangle of length 3 feet and width 1.5 feet. Nail the pieces together.
•Repeat the step above with the remaining two 1.5ft. and two 3ft. lumber pieces to form a second rectangle.
•Connect the two identical rectangles together using the four 6ft. pieces and nail every corner. Your frame is ready now.
•From your 20ft. long and 5ft. wide chicken wire, cut a 9.5 ft. long and 7ft. wide rectangle.
•Fold the 9.5 ft. long and 7ft. wide chicken wire around your box frame such that the smallest two cross-sections (1.5ft. by two 3ft.) are left hollow. Your chicken wire is big enough to go round and overlap at the ends.
•Cut about 8ft. of the tying wire and use it to weave the overlaps together. Also, use about three 6-inch long tying wires to secure the chicken wire around each of the four frames it touches.
•Cut a 2ft. by 3.5ft. piece of the chicken wire and use it to close one of the two hollow ends. Remember to weave the overlapping sides together using the tying wire. It’s also good to secure the chicken wire around each of the four frames it touches.
•Cut a 3ft. by 8ft. rectangular chicken wire and roll it to form an oval-like funnel. Design it in such a way that its wider mouth will be big enough to completely close the frame’s open end and overlap to the sides. The funnel’s small diameter will automatically face inwards.
•Fit the funnel into the open end of your rectangular frame and hold it in place using several tying wires. Ensure that the only opening to the trap is the funnel.
•Cut out a 1ft. square opening on one of the trap’s walls.
•Cut a 3ft. by 1.5ft. rectangle. Fold that rectangle in half to form a 1.5ft. by 1.5ft. square. This will serve as the door to the opening you made above so it must be strong.
•Cut about 7ft. of the tying wire and use it to attach the door to the opening. You will be opening this door when placing a bait or removing fish.
How to Secure a Cylindrical/ Rectangular Fish Trap.
Before heading for the river, tie a short rope (two to three feet) on one end and a long rope (15 to 30 feet) on the other. These ropes are very important because they ensure that your trap isn’t carried away by the tide of currents.
For that reason, it is advisable that you purchase strong and durable ropes, preferably an anchor rope from your local outdoor sporting store.
On the loose end of the short rope, tie the anchor that will hold your trap under the water. That done, secure the loose end of the long rope around a tree or a shrub along the river banks.
Lastly, drop the rope with the anchor and carefully place the trap in water with either of the funnel openings facing downstream in order to prevent any river debris from washing into your trap.
How to Bait a Cylindrical/ Rectangular Fish Trap.
For the best results, use either dog food, corn, frozen cow blood, chicken liver, fish cheese, or any other bait that has worked for you before. For the cylindrical trap, fill the bait tube with either of the products.
If you are using a rectangular trap, on the other hand, put the bait of your choice in a spawn net and then hang it inside the trap- a secure place behind the funnel opening.
Luckily, nearly all the big fish species found in America’s rivers can taste a bait from a mile away and immediately start swimming upstream in search of it. When a fish gets close enough to the funnel opening, it’s either sucked into the trap or it enters willingly with the hope of getting a bite of the delicacy therein.
Unfortunately for the poor fish, it can’t find its way out of the trap because the hole that it came in through will be somewhere above it.
Best Locations to Set Your Fish Trap.
A majority of the fish species we have mentioned above love to hide in the calm areas of a river. Those are, therefore, the best areas to place your trap. Examples of calm areas in a river include:
•Areas with weed growth.
•Slack areas near a river island, if any.
Note: You can set your traps any time of the day and still get good results. Ensure that you check your traps at least every 12 hours to remove the caught fish, if any, and to ensure that it’s still in the right condition.
Always maintain your traps in the best condition possible, place them in fish spawning grounds, and always use an appropriate bait for optimal results.
Lastly, you need to confirm if your local fishing laws allow you to make/use fish traps to avoid getting in trouble with authorities. If need be, apply for a fishing license. Good luck in your fishing and have fun.