Trapnets-Lake Erie
A Guide for the SMART Boater

Small Trapnets

* Are usually 6 - 10 feet in height

* Have flags at both ends

* Will have bobbers on the centerline of the net

* Are usually found in shallower waters. (1/2 to 1 mile from the shoreline)

* Take up an area of 1200 feet x 30 feet (including anchor lines)

* May be cleared safely by travel to the outside of the flagged buoys

* Usually have lead running toward shoreline

* Bobbers may be any color

small trapnet

Large Trapnets

* Safe passage is to the north side of the double flagged buoy

* Bobbers are round floats approximately 8 inches in diameter

* Only the lifting bobber is red...others may be any color

* The area between the bobbers is the main body of the net

* Have extra "floating" line on each of the bobbers

* Are from 30 - 40 feet in height

* Are usually set in 60 to 80 feet of water

* Will be found primarily in the trenches July and August

* May encompass an area 2400 feet x 600 feet

large trapnet

large trapnet layout

Safe Boat Passage

* Safe boat passage is to the ourside of the flags

* Height of nets range from 6 feet - 40 feet off the bottom

* The shore side of the net is marked by a single flag

* The outside of the net is marked with a double flag

* Lifting buoys and bobbers will have extra lengths of floating line on them so they may be taken to lifting winches. Give extra berth to these.


...Respect the property of the licensed commercial fisherman

...Cut downrigger cables if they get tangled in the net

...Call US Coast Guard immediely if prop becomes tangled

...Maintain a proper lookout for nets and avoid them

...Treat as you would any other obstruction in the lake

...Mark net locations for future reference

...Stay clear of net areas

Do Not...

- attempt to lift the net, it is too large and dangerous to try

- fish in the vicinity of nets

- use net locations as rendezvous points with other boaters

- cut lines or buoys from commercial gear

- assume that the nets are where the fish are at

- hesitate to ask someone if you are unsure about your situation around the nets

The Law...

* It is a serious violation of the Fish and Boat Code to tamper with commercial fishing nets or their markers

(Wco John W. Bowser)

(Western Erie County)

  Specific questions concerning local regulations or fishing conditions can be e-mailed to me directly at:

   WCO John Bowser   

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