Monday, May 6, 2013

TUTORIAL - Survival Fishing

If you're stranded somewhere and are in need of food, you can often count on fishing as a food source. If you have access to a freshwater stream or river, then you're in luck. Even many urban environments have them. You'll want to test the water to see if it's fresh or saltwater, since practically all freshwater fish are edible. If the water body is inland, odds are it's freshwater, but still be sure to check.

If you've properly built a survival kit into your 72 hour bag, you'll have a basic fishing kit, and if you have a full BOB (Bug Out Bag) with you (which I'll go into in a later post) then you'll likely have a larger, collapsible fishing rod, like this:

Whatever it is that you're using, you're going to need bait, and while they work for you, whacking a chunk of MRE bar on your hook won't, generally speaking, work. Live bait is often the best thing for you, but sometimes you won't have any available and for that you'll need to do some scavenging.

The main benefit of live bait is that it's much closer to what the fish would eat naturally, so they're more likely to go for it. It gives off similar odours and, most importantly, it wriggles around, creating vibrations in the water which attract the fish.

Bait in the Wilderness

For as long as people have been fishing, people have stuck worms on hooks, and they're great if you can find some, but remember that the fish you're trying to catch may be too small for a large worm, and it might be overlooked, so in a pinch you can use grubs and other smaller, worm-like insects, but also things like grasshoppers and even fuzzy seed pods (as they spin when going through the water) - this sort of thing is found everywhere, even in a full urban setting. Look under a rock, inside rotting tree branches, dig around underneath bushes and tree-roots... You'll find what you need.

The more the bait wriggles around and moves when its in the water, the less of a lure you'll need, but lures are always handy. Anything shiny will do. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need lots of fancy equipment to fish. You just need some line (even improvised line such as the innards of ParaCord will work), a hook (which can be improvised out of wire, buttons or the tabs of soft drink cans) some bait (as described above) and a lure (anything shiny that you can attach to the line, such as tin foil).

Other things can make your fishing experience easier, too. Try and weigh down the bait and hook with a small rock to make an improvised sinker, and, further up the line from the hook, attach a plastic bottle or a bit of styrofoam to act as a bobber - this will tell you when something is playing with your bait.

Of course, if your 72 hour bag's fishing kit is comprehensive enough, you may have ACTUAL sinkers and bobbers and hooks and lures, which is fantastic, but the above should give you some good ideas if you're working with minimalist equipment.

The Long Haul

What if you're going to be stranded for an extended period? Well, that's where setting up a bait trap comes in handy. It's not really practical to carry the proper equipment with you everywhere you go, but you can improvise a pretty decent bait trap out of a soda bottle and some bread.

Use your knife to cut a large soda bottle into two pieces, like this, leaving the bottom quite long, and the top shorter:

Leave the lid off the short half, moisten some bread and stuff it tightly into the floor of the long half. Pack it as tightly as you can. Once you're done, insert the open half into the closed half, like this:

Use some gaffer tape (which should be in your 72 hour bag) to seal up the join as tightly as you can. If you don't have any gaffer tape, you can melt the plastic together over a fire (just be careful of the fumes). Once you're done, and it's relatively solid, then you can stick it into the water, being sure to weigh it down with rocks so that it doesn't float away. Put it into a running freshwater stream, facing the open end into the current and leave it overnight. In the morning, if you're lucky, it'll be full of little bait fish that you can use for your fishing.

No-Bait Methods

There are plenty of ways to fish that use no bait at all which are fairly self explanatory, but aren't quite as relaxing as a bait-and-line method.

The first of these is spear fishing, which can be done by sharpening the end of a long stick as a spear (or attaching your knife with cordage, which I'll go into in the upcoming Improvised Hunting Weapons entry)

The second is netting, which doesn't always necessarily have to involve a net. If you have a large sheet (or even your trusty bandana) you can tie a rock into each corner and also have cordage running from each corner to a central rope, so if you lay it flat on the bottom of a creek, then pull on the rope, all four corners will come together and lift out of the water. You can place bait in the center of the sheet/net and sit and wait for the fish to swim over and have a taste.

In a pinch, you can also try hand-fishing. However, the only parts of the water where fish will be relaxed enough for you to hand-fish will most likely also have snakes, so be very, very careful and only use it as an absolutely last resort.

Any Secret Tips?

It's not really practical for a survival situation, but one of the best baits I've ever used is mixing together breadcrumbs and minced pork into small nuggets. Works like a charm every time.

Another little tip that may or may not be practical. If you're trying your hand at bait trapping, and you do it at night, green light attracts bait fish. You shine green light into the water and they just swarm to it. If you keep a green laser pointer in your bag then that'd probably do the trick, especially if you diffused it a bit.

Anyway, I hope this has been informative for you! If anyone would like any other tips, just post your comment and I'll do my best to answer!

- CumQuaT

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