Archive for January 17th, 2012


Muskrats & Creeks

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[Q] “You sound like you know a lot about rat trapping in creeks so I thought I’d shoot you a PM, I hope you don’t mind a few questions. The creek is about calf deep. But in a few select holes, it can get waist or deeper. It can choke down to 1ft and widen to 6-8ft. It is a slow moving current with a silty bottom. I’m not sure what you call “vegetation choked” but I don’t think it is. Some people have suggested making bottom edge sets, how shallow can you set these with 110s? I have 11 muskrat traps: (6) 110 conibears, (3) #1 coilsprings, and (2) #1.65 OS coilsprings. To most effectively cover this creek, what sets should I make with what traps and what should it be baited with if needed? Any tips would be AWESOME! Thanks alot!”

[AP] That’s a two-part question you pose :)

First, the available traps sizes and styles you have on hand to work with, and second the trapline conditions that exist. Let’s start with the traps on hand. Your #110 bodygrips are pretty much limited to sets right at den / feeder hole entrances and channels beneath undercut banks, thru thick vegetation along the bank edges, etc. They are too small a window for covering middle runways and current flows in the bigger stretches. The foothold traps are perfectly fine, but limited to shallow water sets where fresh muskrat sign is present and/or bait sets.

Based on your description of the water, I would look for pinch points in the narrows (one foot) stretches that are probably nearer to the ankle deep levels and block them with #110s set on the bottom. If the run there looks slicked up and actively used, don’t be afraid to set two traps within 18″ or 24″ of each other. Double setting three hot pinch points will catch more rats than scattering six traps at iffy locations just to put them in water somewhere.

The footholds can be set anywhere you see fresh sign of rats coming into shallow water: tracks and trails in mud or snow,  fresh piles of droppings on objects above water, any piles of clipped feedings, etc. Make sure they are set near water at least 24″ deep and staked out towards the middle so any catches can easily reach the bottom depths. Do not set those traps in shallow stretches where catches cannot reach deeper water… such locations are limited to your #110s.

Lastly, you can try fresh dug pocket sets along the water’s edge and baited with apple, carrots or parsnips. Apples dry out fast, turn colors and attract raccoon. Parsnips are rather pricy at the grocery store. Carrots are less expensive and offer bright eye appeal to muskrats. You can also dig up cattail roots from shallow water anywhere, and use those for bait in short sections that cost nothing at all :)

Those are pretty much your choices to apply at the location described with equipment available. Good luck, and keep us posted on progress!

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