Survival Fishing: Various Techniques

Survival Fishing

All fresh water fish found in the United States is considered edible, which means there are no known species with poisonous flesh. With that being said however, certain toxins in the water such as mercury can be present in the flesh, which of course, can pose a health risk.

Others things to be concerned with are the needle like barbs on the dorsal fins of catfish/bullhead species. The wound created by the barbs is likened to a bee sting or other insect bites, and they can become infected if not treated.

Certain fresh water fish also have teeth that can cause a rather nasty wound if you are not careful. Any cut or scrape and especially a puncture wound from a barb in a survival situation can lead to infection, which can be deadly.

Come Prepared and Leave Alive

Ideally you would have an emergency kit that included some rudimentary fishing tackle. Tackle such as hooks, bobbers, some weights, fishing line and possibly artificial bait. If you have line and hooks you can fish and be successful with a little patience and very little skill or experience. A pole can be fashioned rather quickly using a small flexible sapling.

First, we will talk about fishing when you have come prepared with some tackle, knives and other various tools and materials. Then we will talk about how do you fish for survival if you show up to the party empty handed.

1.) Trotlines

If you have four or five hooks you can set up a simple trotline. Attach a few inches of line to each hook, then bait and then attach each one to a baseline (trotline) made out of whatever cordage you have available. The baseline will have to be sturdy enough to hold the weight. Paracord would be ideal.

Stretch the baseline tightly across a small section of the river or stream letting the baited hooks dangle a few inches in the water. You may have to add weights to the stringers to keep them from floating with the current.

Anchor the baseline well on both sides. You can drive stakes into the river or stream bed to anchor the baseline, and by doing this you can more easily move your trotline if you are not having any luck. Anchor it well to ensure the current does not carry away your hard earned catch. Double check your work.

Fish like cover so when survival fishing look for pools close to the bank where there is overhead foliage and high grasses growing in or near the water, submerged logs, and debris dams.

2.)  Fishing Spears

A fishing spear is easy enough to make if you have a cutting tool. Cut a slender sapling as straight as possible, and it should be long enough so it can be plunged straight down from a standing position, with plenty of sapling left to grip.

Split the end into three barbs (keep separated by small wooden wedges) and sharpen each one to a point. A single blunt spear tip will not penetrate well. It will crush the fish, but not hold it, so you may lose your catch to the current.

If you have a fire you can harden the green sapling points by heating over a flame. Heat until the ends are ash coated but not charred, and let cool and do again. Heating green wood essentially speeds up the seasoning process, by removing most of the moisture, which hardens the material.

You may have watched some survival shows where Dave C., for example, throws a spear from the bank to snag some fish. You would not have much luck doing it this way if you are using a field expedient fishing spear. It will not be balanced or weighted properly, and you simply cannot get enough thrust behind it.

The best method for spear fishing in a survival situation is to wade into a shallow pool and stand still and let the fish begin to swirl around you after the silt has settled. You can do this from the bank if you can stand nearly over the water. A cut bank overhang would be ideal, but be careful it does not collapse on you. Thrust straight down, this ensures you do not lose the spear, and by looking straight down you have better optics, and can judge the positions of the fish for more accuracy.

3.) A Single Line Attached To a Branch

This is a very simple and passive fishing method, and you can hang multiple baited hooks in the water along the shoreline if you have the line and hooks. Use this method for fishing along the banks under cover. Fish like shaded pools in hot weather, and they will gather to cool off, if the current is slow enough.

4.) Hand Fishing (Noodling)

In some states hand fishing is illegal for various reasons. In Missouri, for example, catfish is considered a game fish. Larger more mature catfish are typically caught by Noodling and the state fears that Noodling would dramatically reduce the population of mature egg laying catfish. If a mature fish is taken from the nest after laying eggs, the eggs do not stand much of a chance and they die off.

Catfish are vulnerable during their nesting season usually June thru August. Therefore, hand fishing for catfish can be very successful during this time, because you essentially reach into their nesting spots with your hands.

In a survival situation of course you do what you have to do to survive. However, you can encounter things other than catfish, such as water moccasins, and even alligators in some southern states when reaching into crevices underwater. Not to mention the barbs can give you a nasty sting, which as stated earlier can become infected.

5.) Netting Fish

You can weave a fish net out of cattail fronds, grasses, and supple vines and from cordage you have on you. Clothing can be cut into strips and made into netting, but do not ruin clothing you are wearing. Look for discarded materials first. This process is time consuming however, but is a reliable method in some situations.

You will have to wade into a shallow pool and essentially scoop the fish with your net or make the net big enough to where it is a floating or drift net, which is illegal in many states because of the large number of fish it traps. The drift net you could construct would be small and manageable.

In most situations you would simply want a net that allows you to scoop up fish that have gathered in shallow pools. Salmon, for example can be more easily netted at certain times of the year when they swim up river to spawn.

Making Your Own Tackle

You may have seen Cody set out to make cordage from Yucca, for example, and before you know it he has made rope, carry baskets for gourds and even shoes, and if the show was any longer he may be able to build a house this way. You however, probably will not have as much luck.

You do have fishing line with you though. Your shoelaces, the pull cords on zippers, cordage on your backpack, wiring from a bicycle or vehicle and even plastic garbage bags can be made into fishing line.

You can make field expedient fishing line by braiding green grasses into line and cattail fronds make ideal cordage. Separate the fibers and let dry in the sun for a few hours and then braid together.

Fish hooks can be made from paper clips, or any metal, pop tops, wood, and bone. The simplest of hooks would be the Gorge hook, which resembles a fat toothpick sharpened on both ends. The hook can be one to two inches long. The length depends on the size of fish you expect to catch. If the hook is too long the fish cannot swallow the entire hook and if too short it will not lodge in the in the mouth of the fish.

Sharpen both ends and create a channel in the center so your line can be attached without slipping off either end. Bait both ends and attach a weight so the hook does not float to the top. Let dangle a few feet down and attach a bobber to the line. You can use foam ear plugs for bobbers, a piece of Styrofoam, and even a water bottle that is capped and empty.

Bait can be fuzzy seed pods, scraps of rations, grubs, worms, ants, crickets and other insects. Use pop tops for spoons and lures.

Fish can see shiny objects in the water and can sense light and movement out of the water as well. Light will attract certain fish at night, so if you can get a torch lit you can dangle a line off a pole as you hold the torch above the water.

If you do not have a knife you will have to work with stone and scraps of metal you find along the shoreline to make your fishing tackle. Often times though, you will be able to find tangled line, hooks, and other useful debris near any waterway.

No matter how remote the area may seem someone has probably been there before you, and has fished the waters. Look for discarded line, especially line that has been snagged and is still in the water because it may have the hook, weights, lure, and even the bobber still attached.

Scavenge the area before expending a lot of energy trying to make cordage and hooks, because there is a good chance you will find the fishing tackle you need discarded along the shore. You may even find discarded netting, which can be used as a net, or it can be cut up and used for fishing line and cordage for other uses.

Gain versus Effort

Fishing is typically a passive method of gathering food, so once you have your tackle made and lines put out, you should begin working on other methods of food gathering. Monitor trotlines, floating nets and static lines closely. Leaving fish netted or hooked for very long may mean you can lose the catch. Do not leave the area with the trotlines, static poles, and netting in place.

Hunting for food without adequate weaponry will burn up energy, and it can be very time consuming and dangerous in some cases, if you are not equipped to handle large or dangerous game that can turn on you. Get your fishing methods incorporated before you attempt to hunt or trap game.

Waterways can provide you with more than food and water. Waterways can also lead you to civilization. Follow rivers and streams downriver and fish along the way.

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Magnesium Fire Starters

Prepare Your Fire Starters Ahead Of Time: Making Fire Starters

First, a question, do you scrape your magnesium bar to get fine particles or do you shave it to get curls.

High quality magnesium shavings will burn at approximately 5600° F/3093° C. The magnesium content in the bars available at camping stores and other retail outlets can vary. The percentage of magnesium would not be 100 percent. Other metal alloys are mixed in, and the more alloys contained in the stick the lower the burning temperature.

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Those with Technology Will Own the Night

Thermal Night Vision

For centuries major battles between armies were fought during daylight hours because darkness meant blindness. Of course small bands of soldiers have always operated at night, gathering Intel, harassing the enemy, and committing acts of sabotage since conflicts began thousands of years ago, but battles for the most part were fought when opposing forces could see each other.

Flaming torches would have been carried in years past to light up pathways and trails, but the torches were a beacon that allowed others to track the progress of their rivals.

To operate at night without artificial lighting meant you needed to know the terrain well, and in most cases armies on the move did not always get to choose the location of battle, and even if they could they did not have the time to map out the area.

Today however, technology allows for unrestricted night operations. Terrain can be lit up without giving away the location of those conducting the operations in the dark. Soldiers, law enforcement and others can now see at night, because of technology.

This means that targets can be engaged at night as well. There are of course limitations and usually Mother Nature has a hand in the limitations. Rain, snow, cloud cover, sand storms, and other acts of nature play a role in the effectiveness of the technology.

Okay So What Has All of This Have to Do With You

The grid goes down and Martial Law or even nighttime curfews are enacted, but its dark and no one can see you right. Well, you can be seen if someone is looking with the right equipment. Drones and manned aircraft can detect heat signatures inside of structures from hundreds of feet in the air. If you are huddled up inside a structure, you may only think you are hidden in the dark. The right technology can determine what room you are in and on what floor.

If you slip outside to do some Intel gathering you can be tracked, and all of your movements recorded. The darkness is no longer cover if technology is used against you.

Things You Can Do

There are no absolutes when it comes employing counter measures against thermal cameras. It is difficult, if not impossible to defeat the technology with what you would have available. There are some that claim there are cloaking devices available or will soon be available. There may be such devices, but do you have one, can you get one, and more importantly how confident are you that it would work if you did have one?

You Can Make Detection More Difficult By Confusing the Operator

You are not trying to confuse the cameras, but instead are trying to confuse the humans analyzing the data. Cloaking devices if they do work would likely leave a black hole against the background however. Whatever cloaks you will cloak the background, as well, and this stands out. To a trained operator this indicates that something is there. They may not be able to tell if it is human or not, but only humans would or could cloak themselves or equipment, so there you have it. A red flag like a black hole may warrant closer inspection. Someone may be sent in to get eyes on the object.

If you have a basement and are worried about drones or other aircraft scanning to see the number of occupants in the home you may be able avoid detection by gathering in the basement as long as the basement is below ground level. However, heat signatures will be all over the home, from electrical devices, to lanterns to candles you may have lighted and then extinguished. If you sat in a chair the chair may still emit enough body heat to show up on a thermal camera.

You can use thermal blankets to contain your heat signature or the signature from appliances, or furniture. The blankets are not foolproof, but they could reflect the heat to the point where it may look like a small rodent, cat, or dog instead of a human or a heat signature that would indicate a human presence. Heat will essentially leak through, but not necessarily enough to determine what the object may be.

If outside you can blend in with warm objects such as steam vents if in an urban area or get close to brick/stone walls that would have absorbed heat during the day. Getting next to generators that are not your own could work as well.

However, keep in mind in certain situations there may be people looking for energy sources such as generators and steam vents, and they would use thermal cameras to find the heat signatures.

Heavy foliage, rain, fog, and snow can reduce your heat signature, so do nighttime maneuvers, if you can in the rain, snow, or fog. When traveling at night stay in the brush, walk along or even in rivers, streams or along bodies of water to help confuse the analysts.

Carry thermal blankets with you, and if at home or in any structure a wool blanket can even help somewhat, but again it is not a guarantee, but anything you can do, you should do, to break up your image and reduce the heat that the cameras see.

Glass is also known to reduce/block thermal imagining. How practical this might be depends on the situation and possibly the glass itself. Nevertheless, the more you know the better off you will be. A typical office building usually has numerous glass windows.

If the grid is down some people will experience darkness like never before, because many are not aware of how much light is available in the world from artificial light that bleeds over. The street light down the block, a neighbors’ porch light and the combined lighting from cities large and small all fight back against the darkness. When cities go dark you are essentially blind at night except for the artificial lighting you may carry, but it may only allow you to see a few feet or a few yards in any direction. You are blind in the darkness but others may not be.

Cameras pick up heat and the data is arranged so the operator can see an image, and then possibly determine what that image is. Human shapes are readily identifiable, so you have to do what you can to make it harder for the analyst.

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How to Boil Water in the Ground

Boil Water In The Ground
As preppers, we may be prepared for many situations, but what would happen if you found yourself in a survival situation with no drinking water? Worse, no drinking water and no method to purify it. If water is available you could take the chance of drinking it, sustaining yourself for a bit longer, but at the risk of getting very sick. Boiling water is the best method of killing pathogens in a pinch, but what do you do when you have no container in which to boil it? Check out this video, it takes resourcefulness to a new level.

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Disappearing in a Crowd

Disappearing In a Crowd: Staying Off the Radar Once the SHTF

According to Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov it only takes one tenth of a second for people to form an impression when they first meet a stranger. The study also concludes that “longer looks” at a stranger will not sway the first impression (Wargo, 2006).

The first impression can be a lasting impression, and there are no “do over’s”.

Fair or not, like it or not, we all are being judged continually. We all are being sized up, if you will, by strangers, acquaintances and law enforcement as we move about during our daily lives. We are judged by our actions, our looks, and race and by our political and religious affiliations.

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How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

Broken Finger

In modern society we seldom think about our proximity to professional help. Even in extreme cases, help is near at hand.  Imagine a worst case scenario, a hiker, miles from the nearest electrical outlet, slips and breaks his leg.  Modern technology can summon help in an instant. Sure, the hiker may have to endure some time before help arrives, and help may arrive via helicopter, but help is on the way. What happens when help is no longer available?

Most of today’s first aid is focused on the small time period between an injury and when the doctors and nurses take over. If the doctors, nurses, medical imagery and the like were to disappear, this would force the entire treatment regimen on the individual. What would you do if a family member breaks a bone in SHTF? Luckily, the Survival Doctor answers this very question. Check out this excellent article on setting a broken bone when no help is available:

Read more at… How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

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Administering First Aid: Do You Have Basic First Aid Skills

First Aid Skills

First, ask yourself, do you have basic first aid skills, first aid supplies and a willingness to render aid to someone who is injured. If you simply have no skills at all, or fear to give aid, but want to learn to overcome your fear or reluctance then it is important that you take accredited classes.

Reading about giving first aid, or watching videos online could mean you are receiving information that is not correct and this could have serious consequences. 

For more information on classes and where to find one near you visit,

You need some experience so you “do no harm”. This means you know enough not to move certain injured persons, for example, which may result in greater injury. You need to know the level of your own training, and have the ability to assess the injured person to some extent. The objective is to preserve life and to prevent further injury. Typically, you would not move an injured person if there is no need to move him or her.

Obviously, there will be situations where not moving an injured person would result in certain death, such as when a person is trapped in a burning car or structure. Decisions have to be made quickly, and having training and some experience means you are more likely to make the right decision.

Remember you can render aid to an injured person by simply comforting them if you do not have any skills, or are hesitant for any number of reasons to render aid. It is a choice you have to make, and in some cases there are ramifications when giving aid, so it is important once again that you take classes, learn the laws, and build skills, which will lead to greater confidence.

You want to preserve the life of the injured person, but you also want to preserve your own, and the life of others that may be helping. Before rushing to help you have to make sure the situation unfolding will not cause you injury or even death.

Situational Awareness

Other countries and people not friendly to us have learned from past conflicts how Americans treat their wounded. On the battle field if an American soldier is wounded medics rush to their side. The enemy knows this, and this is one of the reasons antipersonnel mines are often times designed to maim/injure and not necessarily kill. The enemy knows that a soldier’s comrades will render aid and this means soldiers are distracted from the battle and are grouped in one place.

The enemy also knows that killing or injuring a medic has a psychological effect on troops, so what better way to lure out the medics and Causality Evacuation (CASEVAC) helicopters or other methods of transporting the injured then having troops injured. The hard reality is that dead people do not need aid, so injured personnel create more chaos than dead people do, and injuries tie up soldiers or even first responders who would otherwise be engaged in the situation at hand.

Terrorist will stage attacks so they can kill or maim those rushing to give aid after an attack.

You have to assess the situation before rushing to give aid. People at traffic accidents will rush across busy highways endangering themselves and others to help those injured. You have to ensure your own safety. You becoming injured means you are of no help to those you are trying to help, and of course, you certainly do not want to become injured. Parents are instructed to take the oxygen mask and place it over their own faces first, so they stay conscious to help their children when on an aircraft.

In a SHTF situation there may not be medical professionals on hand, no one to call, no hospitals or first aid stations, so it is on you.

Rushing in sometimes can lead to more injuries or death, but you only have seconds to evaluate any situation, and to do so effectively you need certain skill sets. You need skills, knowledge and above all you must have practiced rendering aid under various conditions.

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Trip Wires

How To and Where To Set Trip Wires For an Early Warning System

Homes set back in the woods may need an early warning system, a system that alerts you that someone is prowling your property or sneaking up on the home. If you are off grid using alternative power sources, you may not have enough electrical resources that would allow a wired alarm system and/or surveillance cameras, so what is the alternative.

You can make ad hoc systems, and they can be complicated ones that require some electrical skills, or simple ones that essentially use noisemakers to alert you. You can use battery operated wireless sensors, for example, that are activated once an invisible beam is broken. They can be placed virtually anywhere within range of the wireless alarm, which would be on your person or close by, so it can be heard.

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Seeds Seedlings

Seeds, Seedlings or Both When Starting Your Garden

For most people it would be a combination of sowing seeds directly in the ground or in pots and transplanting into the ground using seedlings. The seedlings can be ones that you started yourself indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost, or you can purchase seedlings from your local home and garden store.

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Night Time Patrols: Guarding Your Perimeter

Night Time Patrols

For the sake of this article, it is assumed that you would have a small unit of friends/family helping you guard a Prepper compound, home or complex of some sort. If you are by yourself or are limited on personnel then it is not likely that you would be out patrolling and leave the home or compound unprotected.

Survival is about making decisions based on the reality on the ground. You cannot be everywhere at once, so it would not be wise to try and protect/defend a large structure/compound with limited personnel. It may be better to abandon a larger target, as it were, for one that would be easier to defend.

Being able to identify targets is crucial, and this will be the most important part of guarding your perimeter at night, because if you cannot identify the bad guys then you lose. This means you need the ability to paint any target with light. Flares are one option along with handheld or weapon mounted lights. Lights mounted on poles that can be activated by someone in the compound or by guards using a remote control is another option. All options should be available.

Keep in mind using your handheld or weapon mounted light will give away your location, so use with caution and never remain in place after activating/deactivating any light source.

Next you have to be able to maintain a certain load out and then keep track of gear and equipment in the dark. Loaded magazines, rations, medical supplies, and communication devices must be within reach at all times. This requires organization and the proper pack. You will also have to perform all functions with the pack on your back. Setting the pack down to look for the nearest tree or bush means you may have to activate a light to find your pack again and thus give away your position. Light and noise discipline must be maintained at all times.

Practice carrying your pack around in the dark through heavy brush, across shallow waterways and so on. Practice removing and exchanging magazines in the dark, eating rations without light, and taking a bathroom break with the pack shouldered without light. Know where every piece of gear is located by feel.

Before you can patrol any perimeter effectively you need to have boundaries, in other words, how far to patrol in any one direction. Become as familiar as possible with the terrain. If “booby traps “or other personnel deterrents are activated make sure everyone knows where they are.

Carry a compass at all times. It is easy to get confused in the dark and being able to orientate yourself with a compass is important. You certainly do not want any friendly fire accidents so all roving and static guards must know where the compound is relative to their positions.

Whether in darkness or daylight everyone must be familiar with fields of fire, all cover, and concealment, key terrain features all obstacles and avenues of approach.

Guards must know their direction of fire when they engage the enemy so it is important that everyone carry range cards that depict all fields of fire for all positions. Roving guards of course could be anywhere along the perimeter once contact is made, but each guard should have a designated static position that they can take up if possible.

Roving guards and certain Listening Posts (LP’s) at night act as an early warning system. They must be positioned far enough out, so once a warning is given those in the compound have time to react.

Set up signals or codes so guards can warn the compound without breaking noise discipline. A simple code, for example, could be two keys of the microphone for all is well and three breaks for distress. Set up times when all posts are expected to check in. Do not use a single key break as a code, because of the chance of accidentally keying the microphone. Set up a code so guards do not have to speak except in extreme cases.

Roving guards will need all necessary materials and gear to sustain each guard independently of the compound. This means they need adequate ammunition, rations, water, medical supplies, and communications devices among other things.

Long Range Patrols can extend miles from the base camp and their main mission is typically intelligence gathering, and possible harassment of enemy units. Any person assigned to gather intelligence must be well trained in all manner of survival as well as demonstrating efficiency with any weapons they carry.

In reality you are always in a defensive position when you occupy any territory or structure and this typically puts you at a disadvantage unless you have overwhelming superiority as far as personnel and weaponry.

You need a bug-out plan whenever you occupy any space because if an overwhelming force attempts an offensive against your position, you need to be able to bug-out safely.

Recommended Load Outs For Roving Guards

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