I have been asked by one of my readers to provide a little more information about a fish trap which I use at the cabin. This particular trap is called a “Mjäder” and I first used it when I visited the cabin before I even owned it
From the top it looks like this
The fish can swim in but they cannot find their way out again. Some people say that you must cover it with Spruce branches so that the fish swim in to it for protection, but I have never found this necessary.
The frame is made from steel wire, and then the frame is covered with chicken wire. It can be very effective at catching fish.
There is a small door so that you can reach in and remove the fish.
You can see here that there are many different designs.
Two weeks ago when staying at the cabin I took this wintry picture.
Last weekend we were at the cabin and after two weeks of exceptionally warm weather (which is still continuing now) with temperature up to 29 degrees in the shade, the same view now looks like this.
I spent most of last weekend dragging trees to the cabin, cutting them up and splitting them.
Wood from two years ago in our outside wood store
had to be moved to our inside wood store to be used over the next year
and then the new wood had to be stacked outside.
I spent quite a bit of time fishing but caught nothing. So on Saturday night I put out my fish-trap in the lake and when I checked it next morning, there were fish in there.
There were sixteen Perch in total
Most of them I put back in the lake because we did not need them, but the larger ones I kept.
The Eel Day held at Ely is an annual event celebrating the cities namesake…..the eel. The celebrations start with a parade of an eel around the city (which you can see here)
The parade ends at Jubilee Park where there are events and activities taking place
Ely, built on an island in what were historically the low-lying, marshy, fens. Ely is famous for its cathedral which stands proud and can be seen for many miles in the surrounding flat landscape.
As I walked around Jubilee Park it was no surprise to find Peter Carter the Eel and fishtrap maker. He was demonstrating making willow traps, while his 12 year old daughter was demonstrating fish net making
Of course I couldn’t attend the Eel day without eating some Eel. Jellied Eels were available but I decided to try Oak smoked Eel with was really nice.
Using a circular chopping board with 28 holes drilled in it as a gauge, we started making a trap. Inserting a willow wand into each of the 28 holes (the warps).
We used thin flexible wands to weave around the top of the trap (end nearest the board) until we had weaved around the diameter of the trap twice, adding in new wands as the previous became too thin or short.
A single weave was added about 15cm above this
and another 15cm above that. This time the weave had to be a little tighter which caused the trap to start curving into a cone shape.
Three more wefts were added, each tighter than the previous (as you can see above) and then the ends were all lashed together.
This part of the trap was then removed from the gauge and using the same 28 holes we made the funnel or “chair”.
Once completed, the funnel was inserted into the trap so that the 28 warps of the funnel laid between the 28 warps of the trap.
Both were then woven together.
Here is the completed trap.
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The trap has to dry for two weeks now and then I will soak it and test it out.
This week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with Peter Carter. Were it not for the fact that Peter is around the same age as me, I would have described him as “a traditional old fenman” making his living from the land and making all his own traps and nets.
I had originally contacted Peter to ask his advice on making simple willow fish traps that I could make and use while staying at my cabin, and he invited me over to spend a day.
Peter grew up in the fens and as a child spent his time with, and learning from the older generation who were in the business. We began by looking at some useful tools when making willow traps. Any idea what this is used for?
Well it is called a “cleaver” and as you push the centre into the end of a willow wand and push it along and as it moves through the willow it splits it into three equal pieces, as you can see in the picture below.
The cleaver was traditionally made out hard woods such as Hawthorn or Blackthorn. Then using another of Peters homemade devices which acts rather like a plane,
you pull each wand through the device and the cutting blade removes excess material, giving you nice even thickness strips of willow.
After a coffee and a chat about different types of traps and our net making methods, we were ready to begin making a fish trap……but more about that next time.
For fans of the TV program Time Team, Peter features in next weeks program.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
A pair of Pied Flycatchers had appeared over-night and the male was singing from a nearby Black Spruce and they were soon busy collecting nest material and building in one of the many bird boxes available to them. Other birds singing around the cabin this morning were Chaffinch and Brambling, Redstarts and Song Thrush, Whimbrel displaying overhead and 2 Common Cranes calling from the marsh. A small area of open water close to cabin was also drawing in various duck species; Goldeneye, Mallard, Teal and Smew.
After breakfast I decided to walk to the marsh again where there were over 50 Ruff & Reeve, Several Wood Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Raven and Mistle Thrush and Great Tit singing in the trees. Then I walked into the forest behind the cabin but it was incredibly quiet and very difficult walking in the deep snow.
After returning I continued to clear snow
Then I made a trap to try and catch an Arctic Hare , who’s tracks I have seen around the cabin. I bent over a Birch tree and set up a trigger system
with two snares attached to catch the hares feet.
I hoped that an apple core would be irresistible as bait and when it touched the apple core, the branch I had attached it to would trigger the trap (the snares of course were covered by a layer of snow). Unfortunately I never did manage to catch it!
Later in the evening I went for another walk and attempted to collect some Birch bark, but it was incredibly difficult to remove so I guess it was just a bit to early.
Using the skills I learned on the basket making course last week, I have now started making a fish/crayfish trap.
Finally completed the trap today (Thursday 8th) and just need to test it now.
The cone was the most difficult part to construct.