Survival Fishing Skills You Need To Know

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Most people have gone fishing at one point in time or another. Even if you did not enjoy it, the experience you have doing it can be interesting. It also teaches you how to survive on your own somewhat. Yet regular fishing is not like survival fishing, where you must catch fish or starve.

See, when we fish regularly it’s not a big deal. We just catch the fish and may or may not keep it, funny enough. In fact, most recreational fishermen tend to do a “catch and release” concept, where once they catch the fish they will unhook it and put it back.

This means you might get lucky and catch something or you might not. It does not really matter, truly, if you do. However, when it comes to survival fishing then it certainly matters if you fail or not.

What must one do to catch a fish, especially if they are not equipped with regular fishing gear like a good fishing rod and proper bait? To understand how to do this, we wanted to give you a few ideas. Some are easier than others but at the end of the day, one or all will work for you.

Hand Fishing

hand fishing

It might not be the most popular way of fishing, and it could even be somewhat dangerous. Yet if you are lacking the proper materials, hand fishing is a concept many have employed. In fact, there are certain tribes across South America and Africa that hand-fish to this day.

Knowing how to do it without injuring yourself can take a lot of practice and time to truly master, of course. However, you can do it without much knowledge depending on the fish you’re targeting. The thing to keep in mind is the dorsal fin or fins. Some fish have multiple.

The reason you want to be careful here is that some of those fins can be kind of sharp, and grabbing at this spot is a good way to get your hand ripped open. This is one reason gloves are recommended if you have them and can move properly with them.

How To Do It:

Avoiding the dorsal fin means you ideally want to go underneath and push it up and out if this is possible and you’re near a shoreline. If not, you want to hook it via the mouth. To do this, you’ll need to get your finger or fingers inside the mouth and pull up.

The idea here is that you’ll be hooking it at the same spot a normal fishhook would. The fish will have an opening at the mouth where your fingers can grab through. Keep in mind that once it’s hooked, you need to grab the back of the fish as you pull out with your other hand.

You’ll do this for a few reasons. The first is so the fish cannot swim off, the second is so it does not pull you down and risk losing the fish as well as getting hurt. Again, gloves are your friend doing this.

The best place to do this is murky shallow water. You’ll have to leave your hand down in the water for a while in some cases but it can work. Catfish are usually the best target for hand fishing but they are also the ones that can rip your hand open the most. We cannot express how much gloves are needed.

Fish Traps


One of the best and least likely to things to injure we humans is a fish trap. You can actually make them out of things you’ll find in the wild. There are A LOT of possible fish traps you can use, but some are more elaborate than others.

One is a fish basket where you’ll essentially get a fish by putting the basket in shallow water where the fish are swimming. Once they get caught up in the basket, the fish are not able to swim out, causing them to be caught.

You want to put bait inside there to entice them, which could be a lot of stuff. Worms, Insects, Frogs, Minnows, and anything of the sort could work. Ideally, they need to be dead as the current should make them move enough to sway the fish.

The fish basket could take a while to catch something, however. It also needs to be hand-made using vines & branches, therefore making it a time-consuming concept. This is why we’d recommend making one sooner rather than later and then set up more traps.

The more you have, the better chances you’ll have to catch one. You can also try a Funnel Trap, Trotline, or LZ Pole Trap. Each takes less time to produce and can sometimes land a fish faster, other times they can even grab far more fish. Ultimately, it’s down to where you place the traps.

Fish Spear & Other Weapons

spear fishing

While we’re not asking you to be a Greek Warrior or Aquaman by making weapons to go after fish, you might feel like one or the other. There are actually very useful fishing tools that can be made without a blade on the end.

For example, you can make a nice fishing spear out of bamboo for instance. You merely cut at the top, but be sure to drink any water that comes from it. Bamboo is often rich with clean water it has collected from rainfall.

In any case, you want to cut at the top at an angle, with your end goal being to cut at this angle all around until you have a pointed-end. This will give you a spear good enough to catch most regular fish.

However, you can also make a Dangpa. A makeshift Trident can be of useful value. They were actually used in Korean Martial Arts from the 16th to 17tth Century, making them fierce weapons against enemies. They referred to them as the Dangpa, but of course, the Trident was mostly known for its connection to the sea.

In particular, it was known for its connection to the Greek God Posiden, also known as Neptune in Rome. He was the God of the Oceans and the Seas, so it made sense to use a similar weapon to catch fish, right? You can make one in the wild. It just won’t be as fancy.

These are great for going after things like lobster, crab, as well as some shrimp types. While they can be caught with a regular spear too, the three-pointed weapon gave you a bigger guarantee that one or all would be killing blows when piercing the creature.

You can make one using bamboo as well as numerous branches or tree types. It will also take cordage, which you can get from the vines around you. If you do not have any, your shoe strings are basically paracord on the inside. Merely cut into them and use the cordage there, while you tie your shoes back with the fabric.

This can be an easy way to catch fish, just be sure to never aim at something near your foot in shallow water. Underwater, many creatures will be even harder to get. Therefore, you need to be stealthy and that should result in you catching something.

Tips & Tricks

It’s clear that regardless of how you plan to fish without using a rod, there is going to be a lot that you can try. Of course, you can still use a makeshift fishing rod out of cordage and strong wood. You can even just use a hand reel that will be mostly just cordage with a hook.

Hooks can be made out of a lot of stuff. It’s best if you use something sharp or that can hold and be made sharp. This can be done with some specific rocks but it’s uncertain if you’ll find any that will fit. Things like plastic can be sharpened and made stronger. The same goes for things like aluminum.

Both can be found in many places around the world.

Key Survival Fishing Tips:

A few things to remember when fishing. It’s actually good to fish during a windy day. Wind makes waves pop up and sometimes makes the water rocky, causing light to be distorted for the fish. Thus, making it easier to catch a fish.

The same goes for cloudy days, as there is very little light for the fish to use while swimming but we humans will still have enough to see.

Also, keep in mind that fish face into the wind. This is actually an important note for fishing at any point, not just survival fishing.  Just about every single time, fish face into the wind or current when traveling. That means you’ll more than likely catch one, knowing the direction they are headed.

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