Sunday, April 2, 2017

Survival Fishing

 Throughout history, and in most survival situations, fish has been a leading source of protein for homo sapiens. Without fishing, man may not have survived this long.  This is one of the reasons that a majority of the human population lives within a few miles of large bodies of water or rivers.
Because of the importance of fishing, improving our skill is essential to wilderness survival. Traps, nets, fishing lines, spears and even our hands (noodling) are all viable methods of harvesting fish, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's discuss some of these.
  1. Spearfishing is probably the first fishing method. In a primitive survival situation, this is one of the first tools that I would build as a part of my wilderness survival plan . Building a spear from a small straight tree with few limbs is easy.  It can be sharpened with a knife or sharp rock; hardened by fire and is effective for self-defense and useful for hunting and fishing at close range.
  2. Traps are another primitive tool for fishing, likely discovered by finding fish stranded in small pools of water. There are many types of fish traps. 
    The advantage with traps is that you can have multiple traps in use and they don't need to be attended making it a fairly productive method of fishing when they are moving and feeding. They do however take time to build, set and check.  Trapping should be a part of any survival plan.
  3. Fishing poles are the most common method of fishing today. A good survival fishing kit is compact and works well for harvesting a number of fish, when they are biting.  Having a good fishing rod and reel, is better and they often come with several accessories. I always add my favorite accessories: A) string which is the moss green braided SpyderWire. It is great for fishing, and small bell or can with rocks in it, makes a good trip line for  intruder detection at a good camp site. B) I also add a handy set of hooks, weights, and swivels. These and the SpyderWire alone will make a good compact fishing kit, but I also add C) various sizes of large strong hooks and some long light hooksD) I also highly recommend having at least one of the Trotlines that we will discuss later in your survival kit.  In a primitive survival situation, fish hooks can be made from wood, or pop tops. Cordage, or string can be made from grasses or some plants with long leaves or even some tree bark.
  4. Hand fishing or noodling is a technique to catch spawning catfish that nest in tunnels, logs, pipes or any small shelter. Feeling around the bank and reaching into tunnels where large fish often are nesting, and covering their exit with their other hand or body, the fisherman (or woman) captures the fish by hand. This is effective, but seasonal and has some risk of finding a turtle or snake instead. Crayfish and clams can be harvested by hand or with your spear or other digging tool.
  5. Nets can be highly productive as they will harvest fish, even when they are not feeding or moving about.  Gill nets, dip nets, seines and cast nets are common, with the latter (cast nets) being my favorite because it can catch any size fish even if they are not biting nor moving. Cast nets can be fragile if snagged with limbs.
    Gill nets work well if fish are on the move, but are often fragile. Dip nets are good for catching fish you can see in shallow water or land fish that you have caught by other means. Seines are generally for small bait fish but are usually large enough to catch a number of fish. They also work best with two people, one on each end.
  6. Trotline, or multi-hook lines automatically catch multiple fish.  Multi-line sets much like the Fish YoYo's can also be productive. The advantage here is that there are multiple lines that can catch multiple fish, even unattended, when the fish are feeding.
    I highly recommend having at least one of these Trotlines in every survival kit.
  7. Suffocation - Rotenone is a chemical that has historically been used by indigenous peoples to catch fish. Rotenone containing plants in the Fabaceae family of legumes (bean family) are crushed and introduced into a small or isolated body of water, and interferes with respiration, causing the affected fish rise to the surface in an attempt to gulp air, where they are more easily caught.  There are some health risk with using this chemical, but properly used, it can be effective.  Green walnut hulls or leaves, crushed and put in to a pool of water can work the same as well as poke salad berries, a.k.a American Pokeweed
  8. Electrofishing, also known as telephoning as old manual phone generators were used to shock fish making them easy to catch.  This method is illegal for harvesting fish, but is used for surveying fish populations.
  9. Bow fishing is effective when fish are in clear shallow water, making a Bow & Arrow a multi-functional tool for fishing and hunting game as well as security.  Wilderness Survival is difficult, if not impossible without the ability to harvest larger game.  For this reason, a Bow and Arrow would be on my TOP 10 List of survival tools, if I was on the TV show Alone

Here are some other good links on Survival Fishing:

3 Odd Techniques for Primitive Fishing
How to catch your own live bait

Wilderness Survival Fishing
Paracord Fishing Lure
How to build a Minnow Trap
Foil Package Fishing Lures
How to make a Spear

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