Survival Saturday: Building a fish trap (and a McWilliams Model 1 testing update)

Before I get to the videos, I wanted to share a quick update on my testing of the Sean McWilliams Model 1 since I am talking about fishing in the wilderness anyway. (plus it gave me an excuse to share that cool picture).

Guide season is gaining steam, and the Model 1 is the first knife I am going to be carrying with me as I hit the water.

I was out yesterday in the GSMNP with a couple of clients whom I had guided for before. The husband is actually a regular reader of the blog, and will sometimes leave a comment on our Facebook page. It was a tough day as we have had a tremendous amount of rain lately, though after last year’s drought and wildfires, I am not going to complain about having too much water.

We were forced by both crowds and conditions to fish a stream which I had not spent much time on – Anthony Creek near Cade’s Cove. This is a fairly small creek, with a lot of rhododendron branches to snag flies. As cutting down a small, overhead branch to remove entangled flies is one of the most common knife tasks I engage in, I had the opportunity to test this facet of the knife. I could slice through 1/2″ branches in a single swipe, though the picture I took did not turn out acceptably. I went outside a couple of minutes ago to document this appropriately.

I should have testing wrapped up in a couple of weeks. So far I am quite impressed with the sliciness of this forged stainless blade.


Seguing into fish traps…

I have never tried to make one, but fish traps are incredibly common throughout the world. In fact, some stone examples, like these in Australia, date back thousands of years. Native Americans had a long tradition of trapping fish, long before European contact. Here are 3 examples of differing styles of fish traps that can be easily constructed in a survival situation.

The interior core-strands of a piece of paracord would make excellent lashing material for constructing the above trap.

If you have no cordage at all, a vertical stick trap is an option.

As he mentions, the “M” shape is the critical feature since a fish will most often try to swim along the wall to find a way out. The inward facing “M” points the fish away from the opening as it seeks an escape.

Finally, this is one style of stone trap.

There are other styles as well.

Personally, I prefer active fishing, but these are useful as they require minimal energy to construct, and allow you to passively fish while conserving energy or performing other tasks.


  1. Carlos Perez says:

    Good looking knife, I like the McWilliams style blades. Creek Stewart’S old show Fat Guys in the Woods showed how to make those fish traps. Good survival technique.

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Survival Saturday: Building a fish trap (and a McWilliams Model 1 testing update)

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