Meredosia River Museum Collection, Meredosia, Illinois
Gift of Bucky Hall
Basket traps were extremely important for catching catfish through the 1940s. They are used in rivers with a current and are baited with old cheese, shad bits, or a female catfish in spawning season. The baskets were hand-made of wood.
At the entrance there one or two sets of flexible slats, called a throat, which close behind the entering fish. Fishermen laid the traps in the evenings, tied to an underwater stump, perhaps. Fishermen remembered where their traps were placed by taking note of landmarks. The next morning they returned to get their catch by opening the hatch on the side. To be legal, the trap had to have a two-inch-wide slot about four inches long on its surface to allow the escape of small fish.