How To Construct And Use A Stream Seine To Catch Crayfish For Use As Fish Bait

Most experienced anglers know that live bait is a premier choice for fishing lots of species, and one of the best all-around bait choices is crayfish. In fact, when it comes to fishing for smallmouth bass, there is probably no equal to using crayfish; however, this versatile crustacean is also suitable for catfish, pike, walleye and even panfish. Crayfish live all over the United States, so they are readily available no matter where you live, and they are also easy to catch. One highly effective means of catching crayfish is stream seining. Below is how to build a stream seine and how to use it to bring in as many crayfish as you need:

Tools and materials needed

  • 1-inch by 2-inch red oak board in 10-foot length

  • Minnow seine net material, 4-foot wide roll

  • Bicycle handlebar tape, non-adhesive, 10 feet in length

  • Scissors

  • Mitre box and saw

  • Carpenters clamp

  • Wood glue

  • Measuring tape or yardstick

  • Pencil

  • Staple gun with ⅜ or ½-inch staples

Step-by-step directions for assembly

1. Measure and cut frame pieces for the net - Begin by measuring and cutting two 36-inch lengths from a 1-by-2 red oak board. Next, measure and cut two 24-inch long pieces from the same board.

2. Mitre the corners of the frame pieces - Once you have cut out all four pieces for the frame, the next step is to cut 45-degree angles to form mitred corners. Place the sections, one at a time, into the mitre box, and adjust them so you are able to cut 45-degree angles at each end. Clamp the pieces to the mitre box to prevent them from slipping, and saw the corners to form 45-degree angles. Be sure to cut the corners of each piece so each one is inward facing; when the pieces are assembled, this will create four joints on the frame that are the same as those seen on picture frames.

3. Assemble the frame - After cutting the corners, the next task is to lay them out and assemble the frame. Place all four pieces on a large, flat work surface that won't be damaged by glue, and align each piece in such a manner they form a 3-foot by 2-foot frame. You can verify the frame is square by measuring across the frame from corner-to-corner. If the distances across opposite corners are equivalent, then the frame is square.

Once you have laid out the pieces and have them arranged as desired, apply wood glue to each joint at the corners and staple the corners together using two or three ⅜ or ½-inch staples. Allow the glue to dry completely before proceeding.

4. Cut and attach the net to the frame - After the frame is ready, measure and cut a rectangular section of minnow seine net equal to 3 feet, 6 inches long and 2 feet, 6 inches wide. Be sure to keep the edges neat and even when making cuts with the scissors.

Next, center and lay the net on the frame; once the net is resting on the frame, pinch a small piece of the net in the middle of the frame and lift the net upward about an inch. Next, place staples at each corner of the net where it meets the frame. Don't staple all the way around the perimeter of the net yet.

Once the net has been held in place temporarily, cut four sections of bicycle handlebar grip tape to the same lengths as the wood pieces. Lay each section along the top edge of the frame, so the tape covers the net where it meets the board. Staple through the grip tape and the net material, then deep into the wood. Place one staple approximately every 1-inch along the perimeter of the frame. The combination of the grip tape and staples will firmly attach the net and keep it from slipping out of place.

If the net has been assembled correctly, it will not fit taut but instead be stretched into a looser fit with a small pocket inside the net. This pocket will enable you to trap crayfish without permitting them to climb out into the flowing stream.

5. Use the stream seine - To use the stream seine, locate a rocky, fast-flowing creek or river and find a place where you have plenty of room. Align yourself facing downstream. Next, place the stream seine down in front of you with the bottom edge resting on the stream floor. The netting is in place to capture whatever might be stirred up from the stream bed.

To stir up the bed, simply kick up rocks and debris using a pair of rubber boots. As you disturb the rocks, numerous crayfish will attempt to flee but will instead be trapped by the stream's flow. Kick up material only for a few seconds at a time before moving down the stream further, and periodically clear the screen of crayfish as well as other organisms and debris.

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