Fishing With a Fish Trap or Fish Basket

Updated on March 8, 2018

Fish Traps or Fish Baskets

Many cultures use fish traps to harvest fish from both fresh and salt waters, commercially and recreationally. Variations are even used to trap shellfish from the ocean.

We are going to talk about how to make two styles of trap: a wire mesh trap and a slat-box trap. These traps are generally used to catch non-game fish such as catfish. You will need some type of bait to lure fish into your trap such as cottonseed meal or corn meal.

Making a Wire Mesh Fish Trap

There are a few methods for building these baskets. One is to create the entire trap using "chicken" wire fencing or other closely knit fencing materials.

Here's a detailed description of how to do this, based on a paln from the State of Georgia's Department of Natural Resources.

You will cut out the following pieces of fencing:

  • A flat rectangular piece of fencing, approximately 72" x 60"
  • One or two baffles or cones. The point of the cone is cut off to leave an 4- to 6-inch opening. If more than one baffle is used, the interior baffle is slightly larger than the one in the end of the trap.
  • A circular cut piece of wire to secure the end.
  • A door to bait trap and remove fish.

Building a Wooden "Slat Box" Trap

Slat-box fish trap
Slat-box fish trap

To build a wooden trap you will need the following parts:

  • (a) Five rectangular frames in the size of your trap approximately 12"x 16".
  • (b) One rectangular frame approximately 8"x 12".
  • (c) 28 strips of wood around 60" in length (shorter on this one because of the weight).
  • (d) 8 strips of wood 12" in length.
  • (e) 10 strips of wood 24" in length.
  • (f) A hinge.

1. Build Your Baffle

1. On the inside of one of the 12" x 16" frames (a) attach all of the 24" strips (e).

2. Put the ends of the 24" strips (e) inside the 8" x 12" frame (b) and attach to (b) leaving a hole large enough to allow the fish you are seeking to swim through.

Slat Box Fish Trap
Slat Box Fish Trap

2. Build the Body

3. Attach all the 60" strips (c) to the perimeter of four of your 12" x 16" frames, including the one in your baffle.

Space these strips equal distances apart with one at the very end of the slat pieces.

4. Attach all the 12" strips (d) to the remaining 12" x 16" frame (a).

5. Attach the hinge (f) to the piece created in the last step and to the end of the box.

Slat Box Fish Trap
Slat Box Fish Trap

To Set a Fish Trap

Place bait in the end of the box in a manner that it will not easily become dislodged. A small coffee can with a hole in it, holding chicken liver or other "stink" type bait, will work.

Cotton seed meal (in large quantities), corn, or other bait is also efficient.

If you use cornmeal or another fragile or easily-depleted bait, try putting the bait inside of an old pair of panty hose to make it last longer.

A fish trap is a very efficient method of fishing. It will work in either still or running water.

Remember if you set a trap of this nature, either check it daily or remove it. Fish will become trapped even without bait in the trap. Failing to check a trap is wasteful and may be illegal.

Guy Checking Someone Else's Perch Trap

This guy is on shaky ground. When you touch another person's fish trap they will get a bit angry if they catch you doing it. This trap is smaller than the one that you are looking at on this page. The designs on this page are best for larger catfish.

Please leave your comments or suggestions here.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image


        6 years ago

        how deep do you set fish trap for cat fish?

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Hola, si deseas saber mas sobre pesca deportiva técnicas de pesca y los últimos equipos para pescar the invito a ingresar.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        what type wood do you use to make a fish basket ?

      • nickirc lm profile image

        nickirc lm 

        7 years ago

        Wow great info, i love traps for catching bait.

      • Country-Sunshine profile image

        Country Sunshine 

        7 years ago from Texas

        I use these to catch perch to use as bait. I just use a slice of bread to lure them in, and it works really well!

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        The main goal in making a fish trap is being in a position to allow fish to swim inside the trap but not out, much of the emphasis should be laid not on bait but on the mechanism in which the fish will be trapped inside your structure, emphasis on design. Carp Fishing Tips

      • Close2Art LM profile image

        Close2Art LM 

        8 years ago

        I saw an old one of these one time while, it looked like a piece of art...RWJR

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        If you want to bypass using fish traps you can always just go to It is what I do.

      • auxpwr lm profile image

        auxpwr lm 

        8 years ago

        I can use these where I go fishing. While im fishing with the pole I could have these by the shore catching some bait or even some keepers, Thanks for your lens, you should check out my lens. These places I have mentioned on my lens would work perfect for these traps. Thanks again

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        This is such a fascinating lens I found it so full of useful informative information. Thank you for sharing this with us...

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        Thanks for this info. I'm trying to catch some of my small fish in one pond so I can transfer them to another pond. This was helpful. Thanks.

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        Very neat idea, definitely worth a try in my next fishing trip, thanks man and please keep posting interesting stuff like thins...!

        bass fishing techniques

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        Oh wow! This is pretty technical for me -- but I'm sure I can find a guy here in Florida to help me threw this. LOVE to fish!

      • profile image


        10 years ago


      • profile image


        10 years ago

        Very interesting lens, never seen a fish trap before let alone how to make one.

        Freshwater Lures


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