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How to Care for a Wicker Creel

Jessica Jewell

Creel is an old term that describes a type of basket used by fishermen to hold and store their catch for the day. While creels can be made from various materials, the traditional creel is constructed with wicker, which is the flexible branches or twigs of cane or willow trees.

Traditional anglers store their day's catch in a wicker creel.

Many wicker creels are old and antique, and are well-regarded heirlooms for anglers and their families. But with the proper care, you can preserve a wicker creel for many generations.

  1. Keep wicker creels out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can easily dry creels out, leaving them brittle and faded. Also, don’t store the creel near heat sources, such as fireplaces or stoves, which can also dry the creels out, not to mention that you would be creating a fire hazard.

  2. Remove dust from your creel by using a feather duster or natural-bristle paintbrush.

  3. Clean dirt or stains on your creel by moistening a cotton cloth with clean, cold water and dabbing the areas of the basket where there are dirt or stains. If you get water on your basket after a day of fishing, make sure that you sop up the water with a clean, cotton cloth. Then place it in a dry, warm place, but out of direct sunlight, to air-dry.

  4. Store the creel in a cool, dry place. If possible, store it in a room that is air-conditioned or that has a dehumidifier. Humidity can encourage mold and mildew growth, which can damage and even destroy the look and value of your creel.

  5. Carefully clean your wicker creel basket after storing fish in it during a day of fishing. Line the wicker creel basket with a plastic bag before you place dead fish inside. When you remove the fish, clear out all fish parts, blood and debris from the river that may have accumulated inside and outside of the basket. Be careful not to poke or cut yourself on hooks that may lodge between the fish mouths and the basket. If you chose not to line the bag with plastic, make sure that you remove all fish and fish parts after each time that you use the basket. Don't let dirt and debris accumulate. Apply oxygen bleach to a clean, cotton cloth and wipe out the inside of the basket, leaving it open to air-dry. The oxygen bleach will help decontaminate, clean and refresh the small of the basket. Never use regular chlorine bleach in a wicker creel basket, as it could distort the color and even permanently damage the wicker.