How to Setup a Muskrat Float Set

Photoby katechka / CC BY / CC BY

What is a Muskrat Float Set?
When water conditions are turbulent or water levels fluctuate markedly, the muskrat is not above using floating logs or other detritus as a serene island of calm in the storm. Food and rest are a premium for the muskrat during times like these and an enterprising (not to mention innovative) trapper can take advantage of this.

Any set that is designed to trap a muskrat while it is resting on these “floaters” is called, not surprisingly, a Muskrat Float Set. This article aims to provide tips to set up your own Muskrat Float Set and the boons and banes of using them.

Basic Setup of a Muskrat Float Set:
Since the muskrat is not very trap-shy, you need not bother with camouflage or foliage when designing your Float Set. You do, however, need to decide whether you will be using an existing log as the trap site or if you’ll be building your own floater.

If you’re going with the former, remember to test the strength of the log before you set the trap up. The last thing you want is the log to break under your weight as you prepare the trap. You can go ahead and use a conibear trap for this set, though a foothold trap will be fine as well. Bait is unnecessary but will help a little; use raw carrots in that case. And don’t be shy with the nails when you attempt to fasten the trap to the log; there are few things more vexing than a lost trap.

Making your own floater takes more effort, but affords a great deal more versatility as a result. You could let your imagination run wild and form patterns with wooden planks and boards to best suit your tastes. We would recommend a cross pattern formed from two 1×6 boards, but the choice is up to you.

Try to set multiple traps, preferably one for each arm of the cross, because you could catch multiple muskrats this way if you’re lucky. Whatever you do, just make sure that the float is very firmly attached to something on the bank unless you want to end up loosing your trap.

Another tip is to possibly attach some sticks or twigs around your trap in order to keep ducks and other birds from interfering with it. Don’t overdo it though, as you still want the muskrat to be able to trigger the trap.

Advantages of the Muskrat Float Set:

Fairly easy to construct once you’ve located the approximate area of a muskrat den. Since you can use bait with this trap, the trap site need not be exact.
The Float Set might be your only option if the water is rough because muskrats have been known to abandon their usual trails in such instances.
Disadvantages of the Muskrat Float Set:

Because this set is normally used when the water levels fluctuate, they are not the most effective traps during the calm when most Muskrats simply stick to their own trails. Also, the presence of bait could result in other animals or birds interfering with your trap.
If you are still having trouble, here is a video that may help you out when setting up your Muskrat Float Set: