Fishing Weirs: How to Build a Primitive Fish Trap

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It’s natural for folks like you that take survival prepping seriously to think you are somewhat ready in case you are faced with a sudden war or other catastrophe that causes social breakdown.

Your survival backpack is packed and ready to go and you even have a good supply of survival goods stored at your home.

This is great but what if you are not at home when a SHTF scenario happens and the situation will not allow you to go back home? Without your gear will you still have the knowledge to provide food for yourself?

We hope to help you with that in this article as we will teach you to how to build two different types of simple fish traps.

Why do you need to know how to catch fish to survive? That is because they are one of the most abundant and healthy food sources available.

Fish can be found just about anywhere there is water and there is a lot of it in this world – Some 71% of the earth we live on is covered by water. Catching and eating fish will supply you with lots of protein and many other essential nutrients too.

Sure, you may be able to stumble on an abandoned home where there is a first class Abu Garcia fishing reel, but then again you might not.

The ability for you to be able to rely on only your own knowledge and Mother Nature may just be the key for you to survive by fishing.

How to build a fish weir

Two Simple Fish Traps That Anyone Can Build Most Anywhere

Here are two of the easiest DIY fish traps that you can possibly build. They may seem simple but these types of traps – known as fishing weirs – have been used for thousands of years to catch fish all around the world.

They will work for you too if you strategically locate them and build them the right way.

A few simple reminders to start with

The trick with building any fish trap is for the fish to be easily able to find their way into the trap and then find it amazingly difficult to get back out.

Don’t be picky either. Remember you are trying to survive not trying to plan a gourmet to catch minnows with a weir

If schools of minnows are present in the area you are fishing then build a stone fishing weir that is the right size for catching minnows. It’s better to eat 20 or 30 minnows for a meal than it is to eat nothing at all.

If you are true survival prepper then you realize that in a SHTF survival scenario, inside the box thinking no longer applies if you want to live long.

Stone Fish Trap (Stone Fishing Weir)

It is thought that the first stone weir trap dates back to Ireland over 8,000 years ago and this method of trapping fish is still in use today.

These stone fish traps (a.k.a. fishing weirs) can be used as a ‘tidal trap’ near the ocean or as a ‘current trap’ that redirects fish that are swimming in a shallow area of a river or in a stream.

For the best chance of success build these weirs in an area where the current is not at its swiftest point if it’s a stream or a river.

If you are building a tidal trap near an ocean or bay, keep it away from any channels of sand where the water may rush back into the bay or ocean faster than in other places.

Stone weirs are made by layering stones up so they form a wall in the shape of a heart. The stones allow water to pass through easily but larger items – like fish – get caught up in the current and can’t find their way out.

Here is an example below of a large stone fishing weir built near the shore. They actually used a double heart design. Note that they faced the funnel opening toward the current.

Stone fish trap weir

In theory, the bigger the wall you make the bigger the fish you can catch. You have to be smart about this too and use common sense.

Don’t build a fish trap big enough to catch a whale if there is no chance of you catching a whale in the area you are building your stone weir.

Of course we are exaggerating here but it’s a great way to get the point across to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different size fish traps until you get it right either.

This is a critical step when building any stone fishing weir. I can’t tell you exactly why this works but I can vouch for the fact it absolutely does work.

This video that shows a very small stone fishing weir being built. Within a few minutes of completion the boy who made it was catching minnows.

These can be used for bait fish or served up as a healthy meal if you catch enough of them.

Take note once again of the long funnel shaped entrance that makes using these types of traps effective.

Wooden Fish Trap (Wooden Fishing Weir)

These traps are very similar in design to the stone fishing weirs that we talked about first. They even are often built in the same heart or tomato shape that the stone weirs are built in.

Once again you will face the long funnel opening so that it faces the current.

You can also make wooden fish traps square shaped and put a deep funnel on the side facing the current too.

You can see an example of this in the photo below that shows a wooden fish trap built on the side of a stream.

Wooden fish trap weir

The same rules apply as with stone fishing weirs too. Place them in an area where the current is not at its swiftest but still has some traffic.

Of course you can get the wood to build them using nearby trees and saplings. Young tree branches that have a lot of water content and flexibility will last the longest.

If you have no trees nearby you can be creative and build these same style fish traps using wood scraps, metal, plastic, or anything else you can drive into sand or a stream bed that will stick up in the air with some height to it.

This video shows how a wooden fishing weir is built. It even catches a large catfish in it within minutes. This is a great example how effective these devices are if you locate them properly and build them right.

Also note the builder of the wooden fishing weir in the video baited the trap, which will only improve your chances at catching some dinner.

Fish Traps That Have Been Proven Over Centuries to Work

Now you know how to build these simple but effective fish traps. They have been used for thousands of years and continue to work to this day.

These traps really are effective and as we mentioned before they are still successfully used by primitive societies around the world to this day.

Best of all, once you build one, it’s like passive fishing. As long as you keep it maintained, it will continue to provide fish for you daily.

So the next time you go camping or hiking try to experiment a little and build one.

Practice makes perfect and if you catch a fish you will gain even more confidence that you can survive by catching fish in a trap if you ever find yourself in a SHTF survival scenario.

For more info on how to make tidal fish traps, check out this article:

About the Author

Ben from Outdoors TimeHi, my name is Ben Ayad. I’m an IT project manager and founder of a newbie blog called

I love outdoors activities and nature, as any human being does. I share what I know about outdoors and also the passion of other outdoors’ lovers who pride themselves in living off the land for extended periods of time in wilderness settings across the US.

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