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Im planning to get some rats as soon as the lakes thaw. Iv trapped a few using an apple on the log trick, and have got a few in pocket sets. aside from that I havent much experience. I have some good lure and figured I can use apples and carrots for bait.
I have 5 dozen traps...some #1, #110, #1.5 #210.

What are some of your favorite sets???
Any advice??
Tim B
 

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Tim,
Having trapped a few hundred of these critters every year, I feel that I can answer you with the way that I go about it.
The first thing I look for is sign, toilets and feed beds being top priority(can't trap push ups here in maine). I really do well on toilets sets using either a #1 or 1 1/2.
Also I look for any minor tributaries and set these with coni's. Fencing off the area is ok to as a rat doesn't spook very easy.
Floats work good if you expect the water to fluctuate while your trapping this body or bodies of water. My floats have a trap set on each end a bait in the middle. These can be made out of any scrap wood you have laying around. Stake these in deep water and no matter what the level is they still produce. Nothing fancy here either as a rat doesn't care.
Trails leading from the water and back can be hot producers too. If you have winters like maine the weed and vegetation is dead upon thaw out and the rats will exit the water to find feed. Find these trails and set with coni's if legal for land. Or set footholds at the waters edge.
Well, that sums up my way of taking rats. Hope this helps you out a little........... John
 

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I have had good luck with floats. Besides using apples as bait I will also put some long grass or cattails on the float for added eye appeal for the muskrats. Tends to blend in more from thieves with the surrounding cattails especially when I use them in road ditches were a plain float would stick out and that is the reason I mainly do it. They do work otherwise as I have caught rats without even using bait on them.

Tim
 

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Tim - all of my Spring rat trapping involved lakes with rat houses. In addition to the other advice, providing it is legal in your area(some states I've lived in ban this method) find the run in/out of the rat house under the water line (should be two) by poking your boot tip around. Then place a 110 conibear in front of the tunnel entrance making sure when the jaw snaps shut it does not hit any obstructions except the rat. This set can and does produce nightly until the house is cleaned out. I've caught up to seven rats this way per house- usually 4-5. Of course I would not clean the entire area out, always leave some for next season. This set also produces an ocasional mink, snapping turtle(by the neck,still alive) and one time an eight pound Northern Pike.

Also - the floats are great. around 12"wide x 20"long, I use a 2x12. Works well when the water level changes as the float moves up and down. No need to bait, just place in areas that rats use like a highway, canals, in between several houses, etc.

One other thing - always try to set a leghold trap where there is deep enough water to drown the rat otherwise you may get twisted off front feet
I've always wired a small chunk of lead to #1's. Coil springs and 1 1/2's are heavy enough. I prefer a min. of eight inches of water if possible.
This advice includes the floats too.
Good luck.
 

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John:
there is a good point mentioned in one of these responses about those little feeder streams and creeks that supply or release water from the lake. In this region of Nebraska, once the snow melts I find a pretty significant migration up those little streams from ponds and lakes, and I get a lot of traveling rats off of those. Most have grassy banks around here, especially if they flow through a pasture. They are great locations for just about any set, such as pockets or blind setting the runs and den openings. The floats work better for me at the openings (mouth) of these streams than they seem to up the channel further. Not sure why, but it just seemed like they did better right at the opening for me.
I get a lot at the huts in cattail areas, too. But sometimes the huts have sagged and collapsed by the time things thaw out. The feeder creeks are consistent spring producing areas for me, though.
Jim-NE
 

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I agree with Musher, look for feedbeds and droppings on logs or rocks. I would leave your apples and carrots in the fridge. The are many more productive sets that will use your traps for better benefits at these formentioned places.
 

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I used to spring rat trap on a large marsh by S.E. Nebr standards after ice out in the early 80's. A few have mentioned about the huts collasping in in the spring. I found 110's and colony traps about useless in the spring. The huts are all undercut benethe the water line and runs are all mucked in w/ dead cattails. No well definded hole can be found on these huts after ice out. I made some fast, big rat catches off these huts with legholds. I would just set on sign, their toilets on the side of the hut or little feed piles that the rats made when feeding on side of hut. If none are present, what works equally well if rats are still present, is to just dig a small pocket into the side of the hut about 6-12" deep, bed trap in water at base of pocket. the rats will come and try to plug the pocket and be caught. I saw Don Bolte and a partner catch 2600 rats in 3 weeks doing this out of a boat. The next year I got smart and got a boat an was able to get just under a 1000 doing the same thing. I ve found lure or bait really had hardly any affect on the set. I stopped useing lure altogether on these pocket sets. Seems like you usually get 60-70% the first check, 40-50% the second check and down to about 20-25% the 3rd check. Move after 3 days max. I would get about 10-15 days open water trapping before the damage from fighting would make you quit. I would have 50% heavy damage after that. If ya can get out just before the ice goes out, the south side of the huts will have some open water from the sun. You can get an extra week of trapping if ya can get on the ice at this time. Those rats on a big marsh w/ a high population will ready tear each other up real quick so you got to get after them quickly after ice out. Creeks and rivers dont seem to get as intense of fighting and the rats will last a little longer. I would look for those grassy banks where rats feed and dig a pocket and stuff some green grass in it, lure would help on the river in these sets.Little undercut feed stations, slides and toilets are still the best, but sometimes sign is hard to come by if the water has risen on the river. There usually is a fair amount of rat activity near the grassy banks as this is where they will be feeding. I never had that great of luck w/ floats, they seemed to sink after a few days, and was a lot of work to haul many of them for such a small payback, but I wouldnt doubt there is a way to make them tick, I just never found it.

Rich K
 

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Good rat catches are made off a system not off sets. although your sets should be simple and fast to construct.

To that end RK gave you some great advice:


Seems like you usually get 60-70% the first check, 40-50% the second check and down to about 20-25% the 3rd check. Move after 3 days max.
That is a system. I use it myself. I once caught 396 muskrats in 12 days using 36 110 conibear traps with mulitple checks in a tidal marsh in Virginia.
 
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