How to Catch Shrimp in Traps With Bait

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Shrimp baiting or shrimp trapping is a way of life for some coastal land dwellers like those in Charleston, South Carolina. They catch shrimp to sell at restaurants or seafood markets, often netting dozens of pounds per outing. If you are a shrimp fan and want to catch some for yourself, you can make your own shrimp trap and bait.

Make your own trap if you don’t plan to purchase a shrimp trap. You can create a trap out of a milk jug or soda bottle by first cutting off the top third of the bottle. Cut off the tip of the cut piece or remove the cap. The hole must be no larger than a quarter so that shrimp can get in but not out. This cut piece will be affixed to the rest of the trap later.

Create bait balls for your trap. Shrimp bait balls are typically made with cut up fish pieces and mixed with powdered clay or sticky mud. Cat food also works. Mix all with water. Roll at least two balls into palm-sized pieces or slightly smaller to fit in your trap.

Place the bait into the larger shrimp trap piece. Invert the cut piece and seal it onto the larger piece with glue or waterproof tape.

Tie the rope around the middle of the bait trap. Tie the other end to the pole. Ensure both sides are secure so the trap does not escape the pole, and vice versa.

Find a shallow body of water such as a freshwater lake or pond. Put trap and pole on the water bottom. Ensure the pole is firmly inside the ground and that a piece is sticking above the surface so you can locate it later. If needed, use a dead blow hammer to push the pole down.

Return to your pole location in two to four hours. If they're biting, the shrimp have crawled into the trap and cannot get out. Pull the pole and the trap out of the water. If there are enough shrimp in there for you, empty the shrimp from the trap. If not, make sure you still have enough bait in the trap and reset. Check back in hour-long intervals.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty 1 gallon plastic jug or 2-liter bottle
  • Fish pieces or cat food
  • Clay powder or sticky mud
  • Waterproof tape
  • 1-inch diameter or greater PVC pole, 6 foot to 10 foot long
  • Dead blow hammer
  • Reflective tape (optional)
  • Shrimping license (optional)
  • Cooler


  • Check local laws to see if you need a shrimping license. Put reflective tape on the tip of your PVC pole if you plan to shrimp at night.