Catch A Fish: Basic Survival Fishing

Lots of trout

Guest article by Bogan:

Much energy is expended on this blog and elsewhere in the preparedness community on food production, whether domestically raised, hunted or grown. Less so on fish, an excellent source of protein, which populates the planet’s water which comprises about 71% of the earth’s surface area.

FISH AS PROTEIN SOURCE

Aside from the familiar arguments from some quarters that fish don’t taste good (while others claim it is delicious!) it is an undeniable source of protein. In fact some experts put fish as the single best protein source in the world. It’s not just that fish is a complete protein and has some amazing benefits, but the healthy fat in fish (eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid “Omega-3”) is something that you just won’t find in land-dwelling creatures.

Among the benefits of eating fish is improved insulin sensitivity. The increased insulin sensitivity means that you need less insulin to transport glucose and amino acids into your cells. Less insulin may mean less fat deposition.

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel should be a primary food protein. They have a great amino acid profile and confers health benefits—related to both the protein itself and the omega-3 fatty acids—that you just can’t find in other proteins.

But what about situations where you don’t have a choice of what your protein sources are, or are otherwise lacking for options? Like survival…..

BASIC TACKLE FOR FISH

Sources of information about catching fish are everywhere, and methods all have their proponents. For the purposes of this article I focus on hook and line methods, bypassing harpoons, traps, poisons, and dynamite sticks – all of which will do the job. However, of greater interest is something that can be light, portable and easily deployed.

Distilled into its most basic form fishing involves a hook and a line. All else is an elaboration on a theme.

The right combination of hook and line can be used to secure fish.

Hooks

A rule of thumb is that a person can catch a small fish on a small hook, and a big fish on a big hook or a small hook, but you can’t catch a small fish on a big hook.

Small Hooks: With this in mind, the best place to start is with a small hook. Or rather a bunch of small hooks, as you may well want to be deploying multiple hooks at any given time. In my experience fishing around the world, in fresh and salt water “small” can mean really small; like size 8 or 10. If a person is only buying a packet of one size and color, I would recommend a light wire gold Aberdeen hook in size 10. However, assortment packs are available in big box stores and online. Why gold? Often fish can be coaxed into hitting a bald hook if it is in gold color! Sure helps to tip it with a piece of bait though.

Big hooks: They vary in size depending on species, and whether you are found in fresh and/or salt water, and can range from about size 2 through 16/0 and even bigger! Commonly, for a survival situation something in the size 1- 4/0 range will be used.

For more information about hooks:
Cabelas Fish Hook Buyers Guide

Line

Line for small hooks can be 6-10 lb monofilament, and can be bought in 50-100 yard spools for less than a dollar at the big box stores. Select the “clear” or green color rather than hi-visibility or colored lines. Maxima green leader material comes in 30 yard spools is a little more expensive and would be an excellent choice here, not only for low visibility but also for abrasion resistance.

Maxima Fishing Line Leader

Line for big hooks, depending on application, can range from 20lb test and up through and including rope. For baiting wary fish (trout, small mackerel) go lighter, for the less wary (such as catfish on a trot line) even cordage works fine so long as it is made of some form of plastic (vs cotton).

A basic selection of hooks and line can fit into a container the size of an Altoids box.

Fishing rods and reels are nice, but in a survival situation may in fact be less productive than tying a series of baited hooks off onto tree limbs overhanging the water. And if you are on the move they weigh something…

If you are gadget oriented, you can increase your chances using spring set “yo-yo” reels available via mail order, or Speed Hooks such as are used by the military in survival kits.

BAITS AND LURES

The best bait is what you can find in the immediate vicinity of where you are fishing. Look under rocks, logs or in quiet pools, or even use insects such as grasshoppers or crickets (insects in fresh water at least) – if it is alive it will probably catch a fish.

Another maxim is you can catch a big fish with a little fish. So using this small/large approach you can use a small hook setup to catch a small fish, then hook the small fish onto a larger hook setup to catch a bigger fish. That’s why you should carry an assortment of hooks of various sizes: Large hooks for large fish and small hooks for small fish.

Lures can be effective, but one must work (manipulate) them to cause a fish to strike. This decreases your ability to scale your energies, because with lures you can only work one line at a time. That said, plastic lures work, especially if they resemble food (lots of lures look nothing like food, and cause fish to strike in reaction!) and bucktail jigs ranging from tiny to large will catch fish. In fresh water, crappie “marabou” jigs and “shad darts” are exceptionally productive, and in salt water bucktail jigs with cadmium plated hooks should be part of every fishing kit.

Bucktail jigs: freshwater

Bucktail jigs: saltwater

MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT

Knife: to cut bait and clean fish

Needle nose pliers: To remove hooks from fish

Towel:To hold fish while removing hooks or cleaning them

Balloons: The small ones you can get a bag full for a dollar – make great floats (strike indicators) and if the wind is right, they can transport the baited hook out into a fishy area.

Keep it simple…

-Bogan

How do you approach fishing in a survival situation?

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