Emergency Fishing Techniques Survivalists Need To Know

First it's important to bring the right gear because you'll need hooks and/or a fishing line to make catching fish a lot easier. Moreover, you'll need bait too. Check out the tips below so you can pack ahead for your next outdoor adventure and be prepared for an emergency situation.

Fish Can Sustain Survivors in the Wilderness
Fish though can provide a meal each day, or even 2 or 3 meals.

Well, in an emergency and for a short period of time you need to eat to survive. You may need to break some laws — though I want to stress that you shouldn't break any fishing laws unless it's an emergency.

Here are 10 ways to catch fish in an emergency:

1. Carry Proper Fishing Supplies
Carry an assortment of hooks, line, swivels and small weights into the backcountry, as part of your essential survival gear. Packed right, these can take up very little space in your pack.

That's why you should carry an assortment of hooks of various sizes: Large hooks for large fish and small hooks for small fish.

You can increase your chances using the same set of Speed Hooks used in U.S. Air Force survival kits.

Currently Illegal: Drift Nets
Though fishing with nets (drift nets) is not a legal method nowadays, at one time it was a popular method due to the ease of catching large amounts of fish with just one net.

Be warned — if you use a drift net under the current rules of law you could end up in jail and with an extremely large fine. Save your drift net for a true emergency and or for a dangerous time of economic and social collapse as warned about elsewhere on this site.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.
Not sure what a swivel is? Not sure what a leader or bullet-weight are? Don't know how to properly tie a hook? I encourage you to visit your nearest fishing supply store and get yourself a quick demo from one of the staff on hand and then simply practice your ties at home. It's not difficult to get this down.

5. Use Balloons
Carry a package of 100 or more white or gray colored balloons into the backcountry. 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.

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.

As soon as a fish is on the hook, you'll know it — you'll see the balloon start moving on the water. Make your way to the balloon and pull up the line and you should have a fish on the end.

Bait and Attractant
Along with your emergency fishing gear, pack some bait. Live worms should be your first choice; live worms work on most types of fish. Salmon eggs are a great secondary bait to consider as they come bottled and one small bottle carries a lot of salmon eggs — just in case you run out of worms.

6. 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.

Minnows and Leeches
Live minnows and leeches also make good bait. Simply press your hook through the tail end of a live minnow or leech, and set it in the water on a baited line.

Use Fish to Catch Fish
When you do catch a fish, set aside portions of that fish that you can use as bait.

Where to Fish
Spring: Spring is a great season to catch fish as many are hungry after a long winter and are now more active due to warmer water as well as laying eggs near shore.
Summer: Fish will often move to deeper, cooler waters (calling for a boat or raft to fish from, or just a long way to cast your line).

Fall: Like spring, water temperatures in fall are cooler than the summer, making fish more active near the shoreline (important for people fishing from the bank).

Fish that Live in Cover
Fish such as bass feed near the bottom and are commonly found in cover.

Fish Found in Open Areas
Other fish like trout can be found in open areas of water, away from cover.

Essential Fishing Gear
1) Fishing line (5-7 weight for small alpine lakes, higher strength fishing line for larger lakes and rivers known for large species of fish).

2) Hooks of various sizes

3) Needle-nose pliers (with scissor built in): This tool is very efficient for both cutting line (easier than using a knife) and even holding hooks. hooks.

4) Secondary bait such as salmon eggs, which carry some of the smallest bait known for catching fish — meaning you can pack more.

5) Super Glue – Steve Kennedy, award winning professional fisherman, shares that a dab of crazy glue on a hook when using worms will help keep your worm on the hook, specifically when fishing in cover.

6) Container for carrying moist dirt and live worms.
Small bucket for carrying live minnows (be sure to give them space and not crowd too many in a bucket).
Fishing Tips

7. Fishing in Cover with a Raft or Canoe
Because fishing from shore into cover is a common way to get snagged, fish from a raft or canoe when possible; row toward an area of cover and stop paddling (you don't want to spook fish), and simply drift into the lily pads, grasses, etc. Set your anchor(s) so you stay in one area, and now drop your fishing line straight down.

8. Fishing with Camouflage
A lot of people probably haven't thought about this. But the data is in: Fishing in an area of clear water is risky business; fish can both see and hear sounds above the water.

9. Fishing in a Breeze
Windy conditions can create good opportunities for fishing; as the wind kicks up waves, light penetration from above is reduced, making it harder to spook fish — they won't see you or your movements.

10. Fish Facing into the Wind
It's been said that 99% of fish face into a wind or current; so be sure to drop your bait in front of fish, not behind them. Do this by casting into the wind (you may need to use more weight on your line, depending on the wind strength).

Weather Conditions Affect Fishing
A front can affect fishing as fish are driven by changes in barometric pressure. Several types of fish feed more right before a cold front, but that feeding slows or stops as that cold front hits. So, if you know a storm with cold temperatures is about to hit, that's a great time to get out and fish. After a cold front has passed, fishing can be poor, even for a couple days after.

Hard rain though can be a poor time to fish; the water can become too muddy, and fish simply can't see your bait floating in the water. Also, fish can be affected by clogged gills. Heavy rain can cause river currents to pick up pace, making it difficult for fish to remain in place.
In stormy weather, beware of lightning strikes. Get away from the water.

There are always more secrets to learn about survival, so when in doubt do your research. Fishing is not only a way to survive, but it can become an excellent hobby to enjoy with friends too. To read more about fishing survival techniques visit Secrets of Survival.


  1. Tyler Jones said:

    A. Pack fishing equipment.
    B. Use illegal nets.
    C. Set multiple lines

    Haha. To sum it up…… if you need to catch fish in a survival situation. Utilize the fishing equipment you were suppose to bring.