How To Make A T-Shirt Eel Trap That Gets Results

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DIY survival eel trap

When I was a kid I watched a TV show called Alone In The Woods. In that show, Lofty Wiseman the author of the SAS Survival Guide showed how to make an eel trap out of a t-shirt, in a survival situation. Of course, I immediately went down to the river to give it a try. I set up the trap, left it overnight and when I came back in the morning, I had caught THREE eels! Here’s how it’s done.

How To Make A T-Shirt Eel Trap

What You Need

  • You will need a t-shirt or sweater/jumper etc, some grass (or equivalent) some string or natural cordage and some bait. Eels love meat of any kind. I initially used some bacon I pinched from the refrigerator, but I have since used worms (lots of them with some chopped up), fish/eel guts and parts of dead animal carcases I found in the wild. Other than the t-shirt, everything else can be found in the wild.

How To Do It

  • Take off your t-shirt etc (if in a survival scenario). With the string/cordage tie, the arms and neck closed so you have what resembles a cloth sack, open at the bottom.
  • Now stuff some dried grass (or whatever you have available, leaves/ferns/newspaper etc) into the t-shirt. You don’t want to over-stuff it, just enough so that it looks a little like an under-staffed cushion. Once this is done, place your bait in the middle of all the grass, add a rock big enough to weigh down the trap, and then tie off the bottom of the t-shirt. Now you should have what looks like an under-staffed t-shirt cushion with the bait and rock inside.
  • Now find a good pool that looks promising for eel. At this point, you have two choices. If you have enough cordage, you can tie a rope to the trap onto the bank so it is easily retrieved. If you have no cordage just means you’ll have to retrieve the trap by going into the water. Either way, when ready place the trap in the desired location and leave it overnight (eels are largely nocturnal).
  • Check the trap in the morning by grabbing it quickly and throwing it out of the water onto the bank. If you are lucky you may have caught one or more eels. If not add some more bait and move the trap to a different location.

Why It Works

  • The t-shirt eel trap works like this – the eels smell the bait, they find the trap, bite a small hole in the material, slide in and eat the food. Because the trap is dark and contains the grass, the eels usually just hunker down and stay put until you retrieve them. Either that or they just can’t find their way back out of the t-shirt. It’s doesn’t really matter, because you’ve just caught breakfast whilst you were sleeping! Just be sure to save the eel guts and head to bait your next trap…

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