How to Make a Fish Trap Using a Water Bottle

No matter where you are in the world, chances are good that you’ll find some trash. While this is unfortunate for the planet, it’s good news for you. Why? Because you can use trash for survival. Specifically, it’s possible to catch fish using a water bottle. Water bottle fish traps are designed for catching minnows, mainly (since they’re small enough to fit inside). Then you can either eat the minnows or use them as bait to catch even larger fish. With that being said, let’s look at how to make a fish trap using a water bottle.

Survival Wisdom & Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Subsist in the Wilderness

How to Make a Fish Trap – What You’ll Need

What I love about this fish trap is its simplicity. To build it, you’ll only need four things:

  • 16-Ounce Water Bottle
  • Survival Knife/Razor Blade
  • String or Glue
  • Bait (Optional)

Pretty much any food can be used as bait. You technically don’t need bait for this trap to work, but it will increase your chances of catching something. When learning how to make a fish trap, make sure your water bottle doesn’t have any holes in it (otherwise, it won’t work). Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials, you’re ready to make the trap.

Don’t Have Glue? Then Make Your Own!

Before teaching you how to make a fish trap, I want to talk about how to make glue in the wild. It’s possible to use pine resin to make glue. To do this, simply warm the resin into liquid form. Remove it from the heat and place it in some crumbled charcoal. The glue will begin to harden, so when you’re ready to use it, simply reheat. Since pine resin is water resistant, you can use it when making your trap. Here’s a video showing how to make glue in the wild:

Step #1: Cut Bottle in Two 

Using your survival knife (something you should always have on you), cut off the top of the water bottle. Remove the cap and label before doing this. When learning how to make a fish trap, it definitely helps to have a sharp blade with you. Without one, it will make this project way more difficult than it needs to be. Here’s an illustration showing you exactly where to make the cut:

How to Make a Fish Trap Using a Water Bottle

Step #2: Flip Over The Top

Once you’ve made your cut, flip the top over so that the opening is inside the bottle (refer to the image below). By this point, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea about how this is going to work. Basically, once the minnows swim inside your trap, they won’t be able to find their way out. This designed is based on the same one used in commercial fish traps all around the world. When learning how to make a fish trap, there’s no sense in re-inventing the wheel, right? Here’s what it should look like:

How to Make a Fish Trap Using a Water Bottle

Step #3: Secure With String or Glue

We already talked about how to make your own survival glue. But if that isn’t an option, you can always use your own shoelaces as string. The entire point of the glue/string is to make sure that the top doesn’t go anywhere. If you placed the trap into the water without securing the top, it (“it” meaning the top) would simply float away and the trap wouldn’t work. This step shouldn’t take more than five minutes to do.

Step #4: Insert Your Bait

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need bait when learning how to make a fish trap. However, it definitely helps. Pretty much any food can be used as bait- crushed saltine crackers, stale bread, etc. You have to think about your risk vs. reward at this point. You don’t want to waste your precious food if you don’t think you’re going to catch anything! Once you’ve placed the bait inside, secure the top and place in the water.

Paracord Survival Fishing Kit

Step #5: Place Trap in Water

Don’t just place your trap anywhere. Instead, use some strategy and place it where the minnows are most likely to be. From here, it’s simply a waiting game. You might wait for two hours and catch nothing, or you might wait for 10 minutes and catch dozens of minnows. It just depends on the circumstances. Once you’ve caught a few minnows, you can either eat them, or use them as bait. Here’s a video that will show you how to make a fish trap with a water bottle:

Why This Trap Works

The reason why this fish trap works is quite simple: the opening of the trap is very large, but the exit is very small. This means that the fish are going to have a much harder time getting out than they did getting in. Believe it or not, this is the exact same principle used in building commercial fishing traps around the world. The reason is because it works. By tapping into this primitive, yet, powerful method, you’ll be able to catch minnows using nothing more than some garbage.

How to Make a Fish Trap Using a Water Bottle

How to Make a Fish Trap – Bottom Line

Learning how to make a fish trap like this one shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to do. The longest part of the process will be actually waiting for the minnows to enter your trap. Once you’ve caught a few dozen minnows or so, you can either eat them or you can use them as bait for catching larger fish. It really depends on your energy levels at that point. Overall, I think that learning how to make a fish trap is a fundamental survival skill to know.

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