Forget rats and eels, this is the creel thing
Shooting Times & Country|October 14, 2020
Various DIY efforts have brought ridicule but not much else, so the next project seems doomed to fail — but Soldier Palmer strikes gold
Mark Firth

During the course of the summer, I’ve written at length about the various traps and cages I made to while away the lengthy lockdown (Trappings of success in rat-catching quest, 24 June, and Use a sheep to snare an eel, 22 July). Some of these traps met with success, but the design and execution of other projects left a great deal to be desired.

I relished the triumph of catching rats and mice, then reminisced about the days when it was easy to catch eels in a home-made wicker basket trap. Making traps is a good way to pass the time, and the various demands of catching different species mean that you always have to stay one step ahead of the game.

And all the while, I circled around one exciting possibility. I had always wanted to make a lobster pot and the idea steadily became something of an obsession. As I began to work towards that objective, I realised that I was entering the major leagues. Anyone can turn out a moderately successful mouse trap, but lobster pots are the real deal.

Not only do they have to operate in some of the most inhospitable terrain of the sea floor, but the payoff for success is extraordinary. Make a trap to catch a mouse and you might enjoy the satisfaction of succeeding in your objective. Make a trap that catches a lobster and you can add the extraordinary luxury of fine dining to follow. I love eating lobster, even though the usual price tag for buying them in shops and fishmongers mean they are a rarity on my kitchen table.

During an idle teenage summer, I was despatched to the Outer Hebrides to earn my keep on fishing boats based at Scalpay off the Isle of Harris. Primarily focused on harvesting rope grown mussels from a spectacular sea loch, it was a constant source of fascination to watch my neighbours managing and maintaining extensive networks of creels — small pots designed to catch langoustines.

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