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Commercial Freshwater Fishing

Directions for Constructing Legal Fish Baskets

A Portable Document Format (PDF) version of the basket construction instructions and diagram is available  here. Please note: Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.

Below are written instructions for constructing legal fish baskets. 

Step #1:  Cut main cylinder from 1-inch mesh galvanized chicken wire.

Step #2:  Form main cylinder by lacing out edges (A) together.  Reinforced side (Selvage edge) is at top and bottom of cylinder.  Cylinder should be flattened approximately 19" across bottom to prevent rolling.

Step #3:  Install supporting hoops and fasten one end of cylinder.  Hoops are made from 10-gauge wire or larger and placed 17" apart.  Place rod entirely across rear end of trap and fasten with pig rings.

Step #4:  Cut out throats using pattern in diagram.  Pattern may be laid out on table or workbench, using nail, string and pencil.

Step #5:  Form throats and cut openings.  Fold straight edges of throat together, thus forming cone.  Make straight cut across # 1 at six-inch diameter.  Make cut across throat # 2 at nine-inch diameter, tilting cut 1" from vertical toward front.

Step #6:  Make frame and trap door for #2 throat.  Gate frame is made from 9 Ga. wire 7 1/2" square and laced to cut opening of throat #2.  Trap door made from 9 Ga. wire 7 1/2" square and covered with chicken wire.  Trap door fastened to gate frame with pig rings so that it swings freely.

Step #7:  Make fish removal door and install throats.  Fish removal door is made in same manner and from same material as gate frame and trap door on throat #2.  Place in top rear one-third of basket for easy removal of fish and for placing bait.  Throats are fastened in basket to reinforcing hoops at 17" in intervals.  Pig rings or lacing wire may be used.

General: Drop line is fastened to hoop #2 at top of basket for best results.  Life of basket is greatly increased by dipping in hot tar.  Double dipped wire gives much better service.  For bait, pressed cotton seed meal cake has been found to give good results.


The overall length shall not exceed 6 feet.  The circumference shall be 60 inches.  The shape shall be semi-circular with a flat bottom.  The basket shall have two throats.  The first shall be located at the mouth of the basket and the second 17" to the rear of the first and have 7 1/2" trap door where fish may enter but not return.  Such baskets shall be constructed of wire having not less than 1" mesh.  Any basket deviating from these specifications shall be considered illegal.


Each person using such basket must obtain from Wildlife Resources Division a commercial license for basket used.  License holder must tag basket(s).  License good for one year beginning April 1, and valid until March 31, succeeding year.

Game & Sport fish taken from baskets must be released immediately into the water from which they came.

Baskets may only be used in impounded waters.  No running stream:  i.e. creek or river.

Baskets may be used in your private pond without commercial license.


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