Introduction: Primitive-Style Survival Fish Basket Trap

The purpose of this basket trap is to catch fish, over a long period of time. If you are planning to stay in a location for a couple days, this trap is perfect for catching fish. It is a sturdier, natural version of the soda bottle bug trap, and one that has been used for centuries. Woven with vines, this trap is filled with bait and then dropped in the water then left for a few days. When you return and pull it out of the water, there should be fish inside. The fish will swim in, but they can't swim back out.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

This project is very budget friendly, albeit time-consuming. Start to finish, it will take a few hours. To begin the project, start off by gathering your materials. For this project, I used vines gathered from the wooded area across our street. This instructable is written to create a trap approximately 2' tall and approximately 18" wide. To make larger or smaller, the steps will be the same, but the lengths and quantities of supplies will vary.

You will need:
  • 5 - 1" thick, 5' long pieces of vine for the frame
  • approximately 50-60' of more vine (thickness and amount needed may vary. Depending on the size of the finished project, you may find you need more or less)
  • saw
  • gloves
  • pruning shears
  • 5 sticks, approximately 15" in length

Instead of vines, you can use other materials. For the frame pieces, you will need something long, but flexible. For the weaving pieces, you can substitute with rope or some other similarly very long flexible material.

Step 2: Getting Your Weave On

To begin the weaving, lay the 5 frame pieces out in an asterisk shape, as seen in photo 1.

Using a bit of thin scrap vine or thin roots, tie it around and between the center (as shown in photo 2) until the frame pieces hold in place.

You will need to cut one of the long branches down until you have an odd number of frame pieces (see photo 3, center branch at the bottom.) An even number all the way around will not facilitate a proper weave, and will prove impossible to build the basket properly.

To prepare vines for the basket building, strip off any offshoots of leaves, thorns, or other extraneous bits that will get in the way. You can use your gloved hands, or garden shears for this. You can use sections of vine as long or as short as you want. Feel free to cut them down to a manageable size.

In photo 3, you can see the beginning of the weave. To start, take a thin section of vine and begin wrapping it between the frame branches in an over/under pattern, alternating all the way around. When you finish the section of vine, tuck it in and prepare to begin another section.

Step 3: Fluffing Out Your Weave

To continue building the shape of the basket, tie the top ends of the basket together and keep it tied together until the weave has progressed far enough to retain its shape.

Using slightly thin sections of vine, continue weaving around the shape of the basket until you have about 1/4-1/3 of the basket completed. At that point, you can untie the top ends and it should hold its shape.

For a visual on how to start and complete vine sections, see the next step.

Step 4: Starting and Beginning Sections

To begin a section of vine, you can opt to just jump right in and start weaving, or you can tuck an end in to the previously completed woven sections and begin from there.

To end a section of vine, tuck the remaining tail end into the previously woven section, as seen in the photos.

Step 5: Just Keep Weaving, Just Keep Weaving

Continue weaving sections of vine around the frame until you get about 8-10 inches from the ends of the frame arms.

If there is any remaining vine left, cut it off and tuck the end in.

Proceed to take the frame arms, and tuck them into the woven basket, as shown in photos 3 and 4.

At this point, you should have a completed conical basket. It is now time to begin the inner basket.

Step 6: The Cone of Fishy Discontent

The cone portion is made to be inverted inside the basket, creating a sort of funnel to guide the fish into. In order to create this, you will have to create another basket, but open-ended on both ends. The width and length will vary, and you can make the cone as wide as will fit inside the basket, but to make it large enough to fit snugly into the basket will reduce the area in the interior. Making it slightly smaller will allow a greater interior space, and allow you to catch bigger fish.

To begin, measure out 5 short sticks. You will want the cone to be 1/3-1/2 of the length of the basket, so the sticks should about 6 inches longer than you will need. Take a small section of vine and fashion a hoop. Tie the sticks to the hoop using string, twine, or thin vine segments, similar to the way the basket frame arms were spaced out. Proceed to tie the other ends together.

Using thin vine segments, begin weaving in the over/under pattern again, in the same fashion as the basket. Once you reach the desired length and width, tuck the end in, and then cut off the excess sticks with a saw.

One option is to do step 7 before this step. This is completely up to personal preference, and whatever you feel comfortable doing will work.

Step 7: The One Ring

The ring/wreath portion of the basket is used to fill the gap between the cone and the basket. It helps to create more interior space, and is possibly the simplest part of this project to do.

To make the wreath, form a circle with vines with a diameter that will fit between the cone and the basket. Taking the remainder of the vine, wrap it around the circle over and over until the ring fits snugly between the cone and the basket. Trim the end of the vines, and tuck it in.

Step 8: Assembling and Using the Trap

Assembly for the trap is also simple... almost as simple as using it.

Fit the ring inside the basket and press it in snugly. Take the cone, and fit it inside the ring until it is snug and in place.

To use the trap, place bait in the interior section. Set it in the water where you are hoping to catch fish. In order to keep it in place, you can either place rocks inside the basket, or take two long sticks and, forming either an X or an upside-down V, wedge them into the sediment over the basket. If you do not weigh down or anchor the trap in place, it will float.

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