Any number of events can take place in the back country that separate a person from their gear. Most people in the back country know enough not to get lost, but sometimes even that can happen. What if you’re far from civilization or have sustained an injury like a sprained ankle or bruised knee and now you can barely hobble along? Keeping warm (typically shelter building) is always a first step to take in a wilderness emergency; but at some point you’re going to need to eat. Foraging for roots and berries and some edible plants can provide a few daily calories, but usually not enough for a person who is not an expert at foraging.
Fish though can provide a meal each day, or even 2 or 3 meals. But the idea of carrying a fishing pole, tackle, and bait into the back country and then hoping to have a bite seems like a gamble, when it comes to fishing for survival. However there are a few highly effective methods for catching fish, many which are illegal under current federal fishing laws. This is survival though. And what if the time comes where the law of the land doesn’t exist anymore?
Carry Proper Fishing Supplies
Carry an assortment of hooks, line, swivels and small weights into the back country, as part of your essential survival gear. Packed right, these can take up very little space in your pack. You can easily have 40-50 hooks and 1-2 long reels of line (200-400 yards). Why so many hooks? One of your emergency fishing techniques will call for running several lines simultaneously. As a rule of thumb, at higher elevations fish are likely to be smaller than what you might be used to in the lowlands. But you might not be at a higher elevation when you find yourself in an emergency. There may be plenty of large fish in area lakes and streams where you’re at down in the valley or foothills.
Set Multiple Fishing Lines
One way to fish in an emergency is to tie a line with a baited hook, and attach it to a low lying branch over a stream, lake, or pond. If you set 20 lines and hang each line from a different tree branch, you have a lot more chances of actually catching a fish. That would be like having 20 fishing poles going at once. Odds are one of these baited hooks is going to catch a fish.
Identify The Best Location To Fish
So you’re standing next to a pond or lake. Look for grass, weeds, even lily pads growing alongside the water’s edge and in the water. Fish such as bass and walleye and even salmon (depending on where you’re at) like to stay in cover (grass and weeds are considered cover). Hiding in cover gives several species of fish an instinctive feeling of security.In recreational fishing, this causes problems for a lot of anglers. The grasses and weeds are likely where you’re going to get snagged, where you now have to cut your line loose and then have to re-tie and bait another hook. So a lot of people who fish tire of fishing for bass (usually found in cover) and so they move to trout, often found swimming in more open areas of the lake. To fish for bass and other cover seeking fish, place your hooks in a way that they’re not likely to get snagged: By hanging vertically into the water.
Fishing From Tree Branches
To avoid the hassle and time of pole fishing in cover, realize that an overhead tree branch can provide a great way to fish in cover, with a lot less chances of getting snagged. You don’t need a fishing pole for this.Tie your line to a branch over the water, water that’s a few feet deep, near cover (grass and weeds, fallen trees, etc), and let your baited hook settle in. Depending on the water’s depth, set your line 5-6 feet from a swivel (a swivel allows a fishing line natural movement in the water), with a bullet weight or other weight tied above the swivel. Tie as many as 20 or more of these along the shoreline, and now simply watch from the bank for any tree branches to start moving, signaling that you’ve caught a fish. Be ready to wait for a few hours, if that’s what it takes to get a bite.
Carry a package of 100 or more white or gray colored balloons into the back country. In an emergency situation, these can be inflated and used as “floats”, when overhead branches aren’t available, or you simply want to set more lines in cover.Tie a baited hook, along with a weight and swivel, and hang from each balloon. An inflated balloon has a wide surface area, and will float on top of the water. Your line and hook will hang vertically, and float amid the grasses and weeds, submerged logs, etc. When a fish bites, it won’t be able to pull the balloon underwater. The balloon has too much buoyancy. Be sure to run a second stretch of fishing line from the balloon to the shore, so that a large fish doesn’t take off with it, once it’s been hooked.
Finding Natural Bait
Like live worms, the land around you provides an assortment of possible bait. Even in an urban environment. From Night crawlers, grubs, and maggots, to grasshoppers, ants, mayflies, midges, centipedes, millipedes, caterpillars, craw dads/crayfish, aquatic snails, and even bees and beetles. Again, just depends on where you’re at and what it’s possible to catch in the stream or lake you’re fishing in.If one kind of natural bait isn’t working, try another kind. Better yet, since this is an emergency and part of your strategy will be multiple fishing lines (illegal in many states, but again this is an emergency and your life is on the line), use multiple types of bait: Worms, maggots, bugs, craw dads, etc. Run 10 worms on 10 hooks and then run 10 crawling bugs on 10 other hooks and finally 10 flying bugs on 10 hooks also. Vary the height in the water (run short leaders, weighted to the bottom, to fish for bottom feeding fish; let others float atop the water for fish that feed on insects and other natural bait near the top.)