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How to Catch Fish in a Survival Situation

How to Catch Fish in a Survival Situation

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Have you ever been in a situation whereby there is no food left and fishing for your next meal is a possibility? In this context survival fishing refers to the kind of fishing done in order to save yourself and your loved ones from starvation.

You may indeed experience such during emergencies and being off the grid, without the luxuries of good equipment, is a real possibility. Things break. There are several ways of doing it although most of them are illegal in most countries. Such techniques include fish weir, fish poisoning, basket trap, gorge hooks, hand line fishing, fish spears and hand fishing.

So they are presented here for your information.

Gorge Hooks

In this technique, bait is made using a sharply pointed thorn or a sharpened bone from that small animal you ate yesterday, or last Thursday, or, who remembers but you kept some bones. The object is to get the fish to swallow the bait and be unable to dislodge the thorn or bone and to be reeled in. Cruel? Depends on your situation and where one stands in the food chain.

Can you imagine your children being hungry for over 24 hours? 48 hours? More?

Immediately after placing gorge hook in the water, hopefully the bait is swallowed. When it is you must be patient. If you don’t feel immediate hard pulling wait and let out more line. You want to “set” the bait when it is deep in the digestive track as opposed to the mouth.  To maximize your chance for successful survival fishing using a gorge hook, there should be a net waiting so you need just get the fish to the net and snag it that way as opposed to betting that the thorn or bone will not fail against the weight and pull of the fish. This way you will avoid disappointments.

Fish Weir

You can make a weir using many different things from sticks and rocks to a big funnel, around a place where flowing waters narrow to drive the fish towards a trap or even a damn you have created. The weir directs the fish towards the trap you have set, be it a net or whatever. How you lay the traps depend on your creativity and fishing experience and the things you have on hand.

On the other hand, you can also construct temporary ones using sand or mud. You can also use a weir and take the fish with a spear. In spear fishing, once the target fish have been caught up in the trap, it’s then easy to spear them. With net fishing, you will simply need to lay your net directly after the weir. This will easily lead the fish into the net and all you have to do is pull them out.

Hand Line Fishing

All you need is bait, a line, and a hook. In order to catch the fish, you will have to cast the hand line in the water with a hook. Once the hook gets the fish you can then pull it out using your hands. This works best in places where you have observed fish and does not work without both practice and patience.

Simply get a good fishing line from someplace like KastKing braid , a decent hook and some bait. This is actually an experience anyone who is passionate about fishing would love to try, but, again, it is illegal in most states. It’s one of those basic methods that a beginning angler can really learn the art of casting and you would be surprised by the kind of catch the technique would give. This method is also a good way to engage the mind and learn the importance of positioning of your line and how to make a repeatable cast.

Fish Poisoning (READ all of this part PLEASE)

A poison for the fish can be made by crushing leaves of some specific plants. The leaves will release some juices that you then pour in the water. Components found in the juice will kill or shock fish. Such a technique should be employed in very high emergencies and with an understanding of the possible side effects. The perfect place where such a technique could effectively work is manageable pools and still water. However, while the technique can still work well in rivers and even large water channels, we strongly recommend against it for all the obvious reasons and it prompted my questions below.

The Editors quarry about this Fish poisoning system:

Do you have a specific mix that will work? If so, what?

The plants to use during survival fishing vary in terms of the technique to employ. Some plants will only require you to take a few leaves and throw them in the water. Once the fish smell their scent they become inactive and float on the waters. You job is simply picking them with your hands.   For others you will need to crush the leaves before putting it into the water to catch the fish. Once the fish takes in the mix then it becomes inactive. You can then go for it. Examples of plant to use in this kind of technique include tephrosiavogelii, adenialobat, munduleasericea, and neoratanenia.

How does this dissipate so you don’t keep killing fish once you have moved on?

For you to ensure that the remaining fish remain safe after exhausting the catch you will need, you can opt to remove the leaves from the water. This can only work if you use the leaves without crushing them. If you use this method in running water then you will have to create barriers to control the flow of the water. Obstacles/barriers are temporarily put in the running water to prevent the flowing water from washing away the poison. Once you are through with fishing you can then remove the barrier to allow the water run again. This way the poison will become diluted and be washed away making the water safe.

Is the poison bad for humans?

The components found in the plants do no pose any harm to humans as the practices started way back in the ancient times. It was one of the most primitive way for people to fish before the current development and new methods.

Fish Spear

Fish spearing techniques only look easy in the movies. Beyond your experience and aim this is more difficult simply because of the nature of the body of the fish. For you to employ this method you will really need to be smart and accurate and understand light refraction. There is a lot to be said for balance here as well as being able to recover the spear. The use of the weir above makes this a less frustrating experience. Also looking for still coves and pools in running water as even fish like to take a break occasionally.

Basket Trap

Get a container with shaped like a funnel as the entrance to your basket trap. You can make a trap using a plastic bottle or jug. The funnel should be wide enough to arrest the size/kind of fish you are seeking. Before you adopt this method there are several factors to consider including the size of the fish, their habit, and location.

After that, you can lay the trap to fit their specific nature and improve upon your chances for successful. Apart from using bottles to make minnow traps, you can also use wooden materials to prepare the trap as well.

Using basket traps will help you catch fish such as the catfish. As long as you pay attention to the characteristics of the fish in place, there’s no room for regrets adopting this method. In the event that such materials aren’t available, adopting alternative creative measures would benefit you a lot. Go for materials that don’t wear out when placed in the water. The same material should also be able to form resistance from the water force for the trap to be effective.

Hand Fishing

Just like the sound of its name, it means grabbing the fish using your hands. You will have to get out of your comfort zone into the muddy water for a catch. You can put on your gloves and wed the areas suspected to contain fish. On spotting one bounce at it with your hands and smile your way out thereafter.

This technique can be very tiring especial in a circumstance where the fish keeps slipping out of your grasp. Best to just fling it up on shore as soon as you have the leverage. The technique also requires you to have lots of energy because it literally means chasing after the fish. However looking at it positively it can give you lots of fun especially when fishing in a group. The method is actually one of the most primitive ways of trapping the fish.

Hand fishing has several other names depending on your location geographically. Some of its popular named include fishing tickling, noodling, stumping, gurging and hogging among others. Do you want to get fish for survival? If so dive on is and jump for any opportunity that presents itself. It might just turn out to be surprisingly fun than the sound of it. It would also be good to distinguish between fish and say, water moccasins, and alligators…


Whichever method you may decide to go for, just know that you are out for a kill in order to survive. Avoid frustrations that might pop up during the event by carrying out more research on the kind of surrounding you expect to be in order to be able to tell which kind of fish to expect. Also, the kind of water sources to look out for including their accessibility. As with everything, the more information you get, the better your chance for you to make the right decision in the midst of conflicting choices.


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