There are three things that you must have if you want to fish with traps and pots:
The choice of trap-making materials depends on the type of trap you want to make and the fish you want to catch. You can construct many traps from locally available materials. For example, fish and lobster pots are often made from the sticks and branches of local trees, shrubs, mangroves, etc. If you are using mangrove wood to make pots, it is essential that you do not destroy the mangrove forests, as they provide important breeding grounds, shelter and food for many young and adult commercial fish and crustaceans. You can often use discarded material such as old tyres, plastic and earthenware piping to make effective traps (Figure 13).
Your choice of manufactured trap-making materials will depend on the local availability of these materials and on their prices. For example, if wire mesh is too expensive or unavailable, it can often be substituted by a piece of used nylon or cotton gillnet.
The ways to make traps and the various types of materials that can be used are discussed in more detail in Chapter 6.
Good bait is essential for effective trap fishing. Bait types vary according to the types of fish that you are targeting. Bait types and techniques for baiting are looked at in more detail in Chapters 5, 6 and 8.
The size of the vessel that you need depends on the type and number of traps you intend to use, the prevailing sea conditions in your area, the distance you need to travel to the fishing grounds, how long you want to stay at sea, the number of crew, etc.
As pointed out above, many traps and pots can be operated by being pulled up manually, using the attached buoy rope. The use of trap/pot haulers and tippers on larger vessels using bigger traps can increase the efficiency of the operation.
It is essential to find a suitable way to store your bait, both while you are fishing and onshore. Salted or dried bait only requires a dry place on the vessel. Fresh or frozen bait should be kept frozen or on ice or it will become rotten and unusable after a short time, depending on the temperature in which you are working.
To maintain the catch in good condition on board your vessel, you need to have the correct handling and preserving equipment. This may include ice and ice boxes, freezers, brine tanks, filleting boards or tables, gutting knives and catch washing equipment (buckets, deck hoses, etc.). The care of your catch is looked at in more detail in Chapter 9.
Lobster trap made from an old tyre