How to Trap a Fisher: Fast and Easily

The Fisher cat is a challenge to trap, even for fairly experienced trappers. And catching one fisher is no guarantee of catching another because they are notorious for learning rather quickly from failed attempts. Their omnivorous diets, their generally trap-wary natures, their aggressive predator instincts all contribute to their trapping difficulty.

In addition, they are arboreal creatures that can easily climb trees; while this allows for another avenue to trap them, it also means that they have more escape routes to avoid your trap. And they are not exactly afraid of the water either.

But with all that said, the fact remains that they are popular furbearers in the eyes of trappers and there are ways to get yourself a fisher pelt on your own. This article serves to highlight the ways in which one would go about trapping fisher cats. For more information on the various trap types, please visit our article on [Fisher Trapping Sets].

The Where – Choice of Location:
This is actually a fairly complicated issue when it comes to fisher cats. While several common furbearers such as the beaver and muskrat are semi-aquatic, the fisher cat is also semi-arboreal. What this means is that they spend a lot of their time climbing trees, thereby complicating their trails quite a bit.

So essentially you have 3 major choices as far as trap location goes. You could use a leaning pole set to take advantage of their tree-hugging ways.

Or perhaps you prefer getting them when they feel relatively safe; if so, you should set your trap just outside the hollow trees, crevices and bushes where they make their dens. The last avenue we would suggest would be to set your trap along their trails, because while they aren’t quite as predictable as the muskrat, they are still creatures of habit.

The What – Choice of Trap or Set:
The choice of trap type is a fairly straightforward process, at least for trapping fishers. During the summer they are more likely to stay on the ground and are reasonably susceptible to conibear, cage and foothold traps along their trails or just outside their dens, assuming that they are well camouflaged, of course.

But when winter hits, especially with heavy snowfall, they are loathe to plow their way through said snow and will be more likely to climb the nearby trees to get around (a notable exception is if it is able to feed on deer guts first; a fisher with a full stomach will not want to partake in tree-climbing). Thus, the leaning pole set is a good choice for a snowy winter.

The What Else – Choice of Bait and Lures:
This is even more straightforward; use a skinned but whole beaver carcass as your bait of choice. Other smaller creatures like hare, mice and squirrels will also do, but beaver meat works best. Live bait is also worth considering. As for lures, fishers react quite favorably to fishy odors like skunk oil and fish oil.

Don’t get be wrong, learning how to trap a fisher can and will take time. The real question this is if you’re willing to put in the time. More often than not, you can only take these tips with a grain of salt as it will vary from person to person and place to place with trapping. With this in mind, the more time you are willing to put into it, the higher chances you’ll actually trap that pesky fisher.

Top Fisher Trapping Sets: Don’t waste time trying others!

So you’ve finally decided to graduate from novice trapping and move on to the big leagues. Fishers (or Fisher cats as they are also known, despite the fact that they aren’t feline) are not what you’d call easy prey. They are some of the most aggressive and large furbearing predators from the weasel family in the North American continent and they are quite clever to boot.

Few animals learn from traps as quickly and efficiently as the fisher. And while their fur is quite thick and soft depending upon the season, there are usually easier pickings if fur is all you’re looking for. The real reason to trap fisher is the fact that they are difficult to catch and their pelts mark you as a veteran trapper.

They’ve been trapped to near-extinction multiple times in the past; as a result their seasons tend to be short and require extra attention to detail to be taken advantage of. This article serves to list and briefly elucidate the top 3 fisher trapping sets. Obviously this will vary from trapper to trapper, so just take it as a general guide; maybe you’ll end up succeeding too!

Leaning Pole Fisher Trapping Set:
A leaning pole set is one that utilizes a thin (relative to a tree trunk) branch or pole fitted with bait and a trap, usually a conibear. The pole is secured to a nearby tree at an incline so as to offer a simpler path to the tree-climbing animal. This set is fairly useful for trapping fisher during the summer when they are more likely to climb the pole for the bait; during winter they are usually quite lethargic unless starved, but this set can be effective then as well. The point to keep in mind is that the tree you’re leaning the pole on must have a fairly thin trunk; otherwise the fisher might get to the bait through the tree instead, completely bypassing your trap.

Live Cage Fisher Trapping Set:
This set utilizes a cage or box trap and attempts to capture the fisher alive. Since fisher cats are quite intelligent and trap-wary, you must pay special attention when camouflaging your trap to avoid any suspicion. Fisher cats will avoid unfamiliar material such as metal if clearly visible. You will need bait, usually in the form of beaver meat and preferably whole. Care should also be taken to use a large cage trap because a fully grown fisher male can be about 3 feet long. Try to place your trap in an isolated location with trees nearby. Use of a fishy or skunky lure is also recommended.

Box-Conibear Fisher Trapping Set:
This set is a combination of a box trap and a conibear trap. Use a large and fairly thick wooden box trap and cut open two grooves in the sides trailing from the open end of the box, roughly the size of the conibear hand holds. This will allow you to comfortably place a medium sized conibear trap inside the box trap; a combination that is quite deadly for the fisher. Trap placement is similar to other fisher sets; simply locate an isolated area of the fisher habitat with trees around. Bait is a necessity as well and our recommendation is beaver meat, preferably whole.

Fisher Trapping Tips, Tricks and Techniques

The Fisher is one of the more difficult furbearers to trap in North America. The reasons for why are myriad; they are semi-arboreal, they are excellent swimmers, they are omnivorous and can feed on carrion, they are quite trap-wary and they are not exactly married to their trails. Therefore, it only stands to reason that trapping them consistently would be quite the reputation booster in the trapping community.

This article aims to provide you with pointers that could well save you several months of experience with failed traps. For more detailed information on the various aspects of Fisher Trapping please read our articles on [How to Trap a Fisher], [Fisher Trapping Sets] and [Best Bait for Trapping Fishers].

So let’s get started with the Top 8 Fisher Trapping Tips, in no particular order:

During winters with heavy snowfall, the leaning pole set would be your best bet for catching a fisher, especially if there isn’t much carrion around for it to feed on. The fisher is not fond of trudging through the snow, so it will take any opportunity to take to the trees…and into your trap.
On the other hand, during summer it is usually best to go for the wooden box-conibear combo set that has been detailed in our [Fisher Trapping Sets] page. The wooden box serves to funnel the fisher quite well, not to mention dispel its suspicions regarding the metal conibear trap waiting inside.
When using conibear traps, the general rule of thumb is that bigger is not always better. Given the aggressive predatory nature of the fisher cat, it is actually preferable to use a smaller gauge conibear trap to ensure that the fisher is securely trapped. Several veteran trappers swear by the 160 model for the male fisher and the 120 for the female.
A consensus when it comes to the best bait for any kind of trap or prey is a very rare thing in the trapping community; the closest you’ll get is that beaver meat is the best bait available for trapping fishers. So go with the flow and try your best to procure some beaver meat.
If you use beaver meat, make sure to leave it whole and not just use the innards or parts of the animal. For born predators like the fisher cat, a whole beaver is best, either skinned or otherwise.
Should beaver meat be unavailable to you for some reason, then you could try to make do with smaller animals like hare, mice, voles and squirrels. You might even consider using live bait if you can manage it.
Despite the near complete absence of fish in their diet, fishers are strangely intrigued by fishy odors. So get a few drops of skunk oil or fish oil and use that to compliment the bait in your fisher trap.
When attempting to locate fisher dens, be on the lookout for hollowed-out tree trunks, inside isolated crevices and under logs and bushes.
Obviously some of these tips will vary from trapper to trapper, but maybe a few of these tips will be helpful.