Float trapping muskrats is a great way to catch 'rats when you don't have any traditional places to set your traps. Floats provide a floating platform to set your trap upon.
Trappers who trap big water use floats on a fairly consistent basis.
If you are into big water trapping you probably already know more about float trapping than I ever will.
For those of us who trap on smaller rivers and ponds, floats are a great fallback set when water levels are high.
At this time, the dens are flooded and muskrats are looking for anyplace they can find to rest and snack.
A float provides a calm spot in the storm.
Floats are made from anything that will float in the water and provide a stable platform for a muskrat to climb up onto. It also must provide an area for your trap, or traps, to rest.
My old trapping partner worked construction so we always had a plethora of scrap boards to nail together and experiment with.
I have seen some real nice floats constructed in magazine articles, but I have always been one to go my own way, so I just kind of wing it when I construct a float.
One thing to keep in mind when you are putting together your float design is to take into account what kind of current you are working with. Some of the small "big water" float designs will not do well in an icy, flooded, fast moving stream.
The simplest "float" I use is a plain board or log (I use it more than any other). I attach one end to the shore and let the other end float out in the water. I use a finish nail to hold the trap in place (put the small hole in the trap frame over it).
If you use this set during break-up you won't need any bait since the 'rats seem to like climbing these boards. At other times, an apple or some peeled willow roots usually do the trick.
The most common float I build is what I call an "X" float. I take an 8'' or so piece of firewood and split it in half leaving two half round pieces of wood. I set them side by side, flat side down and nail a 3' or longer (or whatever I feel like) piece of 1x6 to them.
Next, take another similar 1x6, cross the first one and nail it in place. Flip it over and you should have a small platform with an "X" of 1x6's on the bottom. When you set it, you can put up to six traps on this thing. Two traps on the top platform and one on each 1x6 sticking out the side.
This may seem like it's a waste of traps, but if you use them when conditions are right you'll be attracting every muskrat in the area to your set, and you will catch multiple 'rats a night.
No matter what kind of float you use, always remember to secure it to something that won't wash away.
Float trapping muskrats brings out the inventiveness of trappers. Have fun with it and learn what works on your line.